Robert George, a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University and member of the President's Council on Bioethics, and Thomas Berg, executive director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece published earlier this month "made some points worth considering in debate over whether taxpayers should be forced to fund" embryonic stem cell research but also "missed key points," Cathy Ruse, senior fellow for legal studies at the Family Research Council, writes in a Journal letter to the editor (Ruse, Wall Street Journal, 3/19). In the editorial, George and Berg write that opponents and supporters of embryonic stem cell research should agree that: there is no U.S. ban on embryonic stem cell research; scientists are "a long way" from developing therapies from the research; the human embryo "has at least some degree of special moral status"; there are "noncontroversial alternatives" worth researching; concerns about embryo destruction are not just religious-based; and a "search for cures" is not the only motive of embryonic stem cell researchers. George and Berg write that "embryo-destructive research cannot be morally justified, even if it really were likely to produce cures for dreaded afflictions," adding, "We fervently share the desire for cures, but we believe that biomedical science compromises its own integrity when it destroys human life in the cause of trying to save it" (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 3/14). According to Ruse, embryonic stem cell research "almost certainly will lead to cloning embryos and to exploiting the women who will be needed to produce" human eggs required for the research. Ruse adds that the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 (HR 3, S 5) being considered by Congress is a "dead-end street." Although the legislation allows "funding for research using frozen embryos that would otherwise be 'discarded' by in vitro fertilization clinics," a recent RAND study found that about 11,000 such embryos exist, which "at best" would create 275 stem cell lines but likely would produce less, according to Ruse. Because of the small number of likely stem cell lines, researchers are looking at cloning human embryos, which "runs smack into the exploitation of women, because every cloned human embryo requires at least one human egg." Ruse adds that the process to retrieve the eggs carries "significant health risks, such as kidney failure, ovarian torsion and even death." Ruse writes that "[n]one of these problems arise with adult stem cell research," which "has already led to the development of therapies undergoing 1,200 clinical trials" (Wall Street Journal, 3/19).

"Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Tag Cloud