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Stem Cell Research
1. You are a United States researcher doing very
promising work that could lead to a cure for Alzheimer's disease.
However, in order to continue your research, you need a large source
of stem cells. A local fertility clinic will sell you leftover blastocysts
that it would otherwise be throw away. However, a non-profit group,
that considers the blastocysts to be human lives, wants to buy them and
let other couples "adopt" them for their own infertility
Obtaining the cells might be the last thing needed for you to cure
a serious disease, but some would argue that you are destroying
human lives in the process.
Should you still purchase the cells if they have the potential to
develop into fetuses? What sources of stem cells are acceptable?
2. You are a National Institutes of Health researcher who needs
access to a wide variety of stem cell lines for your research. However,
the federal government will only give you funding if you use their
71 approved cell lines, which is about half as many as you need.
A private biotechnology firm offers to hire you and support your
work. If you go to a private firm, you will have all of the cell
lines that you need, but many of these lines could come from aborted
fetuses or excess fertility clinic blastocysts.
Your work cannot progress if you do not have enough cell lines,
but the cell lines ineligible for federal funding are considered,
by the government, to come from developing humans who were deliberately
killed to produce stem cell lines.
Is it acceptable to avoid federal funding to conduct the research
that could save lives?
3. You are the President of the United States and are trying to
decide if the federal government should fund or restrict funding on stem
cell research. You are concerned that some methods of obtaining
stem cells are unethical or immoral and want to prevent those methods
from being used. However, you do not want to interfere in the conduct
of private, non-government affiliated researchers and are therefore
considering banning such research only in government labs or labs that
receive government funding. At the same time, you do not want to
restrict medical advancement any more than necessary and are trying to leave as many research options open as possible.
What should your policy on stem cell research be? Should you only
restrict federal research or attempt to restrict all research in
the United States? If you restricted all research would that shift the research and therefore the intellectual and economic capital overseas and
would that be worse? Is it even your job to decide what kind of
research is appropriate in the country? In making your decision,
whose ethical beliefs should you consider Yours? Religious
leaders? Private citizens?