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Human embryonic stem cells can divide indefinitely and have the potential to develop into many types of tissue. Research on these cells is essential to one of the most intriguing medical frontiers, regenerative medicine. It also raises a host of difficult ethical issues and has sparked great public interest and controversy.This book offers a foundation for thinking about the many issues involved in human embryonic stem cell research. It considers questions about the nature of human life, the limits of intervention into human cells and tissues, and the meaning of our corporeal existence. The fact that stem cells may be derived from living embryos that are destroyed in the process or from aborted fetuses ties the discussion of stem cell research to the ongoing debates on abortion. In addition to these issues, the essays in the book touch on broader questions such as who should approve controversial research and what constitutes human dignity, respect, and justice. The book contains contributions from the Ethics Advisory Board of the Geron
Coroporation; excerpts from expert testimony given before the National Bioethics
Advisory Commission, which helped shape recent National Institutes of Health policy;
and original analytical essays on the implications of this research.
The MIT Press
When derivation of human pluripotent stem cells was announced in November 1998 it caught most of the scientific community and the public by surprise. Although work in animals had successfully isolated stem cells in a number of species, the search for human pluripotent stem cells seemed elusive at best. The simultaneous announcement of the isolation of human embryonic stem (hES) cells (Thomson et al. 1998) and human embryonic germ (hEG) cells (Shamblott et al. 1998) set off a storm of controversy. Forces quickly mobilized: President Clinton asked the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) to undertake a thorough review of issues associated with stem cell research (NBAC 1999), religious leaders reiterated their opposition to creation of embryos for research or to destruction of embryos in research, and ethicists began to study the issues involved.
During spring of 1999, NBAC held public hearings on stem cell research and drafted its preliminary report, which was published in September of that year....
At the same time that NBAC was conducting its deliberations, the AAAS held a series of meetings in which ethical and scientific issues around stem cells were discussed and policy recommendations issued (Chapman et al. 1999). Zoloth and Lebacqz were involved in those meetings. In addition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted its own investigation into the legalities of permitting the use of federal funds for stem cell research (NIH 1999a) and began drafting guidelines for human pluripotent stem cell research (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services [DHHS] 1999) that were made final in August 2000 (DHHS 2000). The immediate attention of so many prominent public bodies indicates the significance of this research...
Copyright 2001 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
I The Science and Background of Human Embryonic Stem Cells
1 Human Embryonic Stem Cells: A Primer on the Technology and Its Medical Applications, Thomas B. Okarma
2 Human Embryonic Stem Cells, James A. Thomson
3 The Stem Cell Debate in Historical Context, John C. Fletcher
II Raising the Ethical Issues
4 On the Ethics and Politics of Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Erik Parens
5 Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Comments on the NBAC Report, Françoise Baylis
6 NBAC’s Arguments on Embryo Research: Strengths and Weaknesses, John C. Fletcher
7 Beyond the Embryo: A Feminist Appraisal of the Embryonic Stem Cell Debate, Suzanne Holland
III Angles of Vision
8 Stem Cell Research—A Jewish Perspective, Elliot N. Dorff
9 The Ethics of the Eighth Day: Jewish Bioethics and Research on Human Embryonic Stem Cells, Laurie Zoloth
10 Roman Catholic Views on Research Involving Human Embryonic Stem Cells, Margaret A. Farley
11 Human Embryonic Stem Cells: Possible Approaches from a Catholic Perspective, Michael M. Mendiola
12 Embryonic Stem Cells and the Theology of Dignity, Ted Peters
13 Some Protestant Reflections, Gilbert Meilaender
14 On the Elusive Nature of Respect, Karen Lebacqz
15 Ethical Issues: A Secular Perspective, Ernlé W. D. Young
IV Public Discourse, Oversight, and the Role of Research in Society
16 From the Micro to the Macro, Thomas A. Shannon
17 “Expert Bioethics” as Professional Discourse: The Case of Stem Cells, Paul Root Wolpe and Glenn McGee
18 Stem Cells: Shaping the Future in Public Policy, Margaret R. McLean
19 Leaps and Boundaries: Expanding Oversight of Human Stem Cell Research, Cynthia B. Cohen
20 Jordan’s Banks: A View from the First Years of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Laurie Zoloth Glossary
Posted February 9, 2002
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