: Embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to save many lives, must be recovered from aborted fetuses or live embryos. Although tissue from aborted fetuses can be used without moral complicity in the underlying abortion, obtaining stem cells from embryos necessarily kills them, thus raising difficult questions about the use of embryonic human material to save others. This article draws on previous controversies over embryo research and distinctions between intrinsic and symbolic moral status to analyze these issues. It argues (...) that stem cell research with spare embryos produced during infertility treatment, or even embryos created specifically for research or therapeutic purposes, is ethically acceptable and should receive federal funding. (shrink)
: Pharmacogenetics offers the prospect of an era of safer and more effective drugs, as well as more individualized use of drug therapies. Before the benefits of pharmacogenetics can be realized, the ethical issues that arise in research and clinical application of pharmacogenetic technologies must be addressed. The ethical issues raised by pharmacogenetics can be addressed under six headings: regulatory oversight, confidentiality and privacy, informed consent, availability of drugs, access, and clinicians' changing responsibilities in the era of pharmacogenetic medicine. We (...) analyze each of these categories of ethical issues and provide policy approaches for addressing them. (shrink)
Safe and effective methods of preconception gender selection through flow cytometric separation of X- and Y-bearing sperm could greatly increase the use of gender selection by couples contemplating reproduction. Such a development raises ethical, legal, and social issues about the impact of such practices on offspring, on sex ratio imbalances, and on sexism and the status of women. This paper analyzes the competing interests in preconception gender selection, and concludes that its use to increase gender variety in a family, and (...) possibly for selecting the gender of firstborn, might in many instances be ethically acceptable. (shrink)
This overview of 10 years of stem cell controversy reviews the moral conflict that has made ESCs so controversial and how this conflict plays itself out in the legal realm, focusing on the constitutional status of efforts to ban ESC research or ESC-derived therapies. It provides a history of the federal funding debate from the Carter to the Obama administrations, and the importance of the Raab memo in authorizing federal funding for research with privately derived ESCs despite the Dickey-Wicker ban (...) on federal funding of embryo research. It also reviews the role that scientists themselves have played in developing regulations for ESC research, the emergence of ESCROs as special review bodies for ESC research, and the thorough consent requirements for donation of IVF embryos to ESC research. With research now transitioning from the lab to the clinic, the article reviews the challenges of ensuring safety and consent in translational research. It concludes with a call for respecting those persons who have to using or working with ESC products and an account of how obtaining stem cells from a person's own cells will alleviate some but not all of the controversy surrounding ESC research. (shrink)
Progress in gene sequencing could make rapid whole genome sequencing of individuals affordable to millions of persons and useful for many purposes in a future era of genomic medicine. Using the idea of $1000 genome as a focus, this article reviews the main technical, ethical, and legal issues that must be resolved to make mass genotyping of individuals cost-effective and ethically acceptable. It presents the case for individual ownership of a person's genome and its information, and shows the implications of (...) that position for rights to informed consent and privacy over sequencing, testing, and disclosing genomic information about identifiable individuals. Legal recognition of a person's right to control his or her genome and the information that it contains is essential for further progress in applying genomic discoveries to human lives. (shrink)
Stigma marks both surrogacy and abortion. Legal change lessens stigma but may not remove it altogether. Post-legalization regulation may reinstall stigma by surrounding a legalized practice with barriers that make exercise of that right more difficult. As a result, law may reenact stigma even as it purports to take it away.