The interview today with the stem cell researcher was fascinating and I found myself examining my own belief system. I came into the program in favor of continuing embryonic stem cell research and I remain in favor of it. As your guest remarked, the issue becomes very real when a loved one is touched by a disease or injury that might be healed with stem cells. My beautiful, bright, talented niece was injured in a car accident at age 19 and is now paralyzed from the chest down. She remains beautiful, bright and talented but her life is so difficult, and the stress has taken a toll on all the people who love her, particularly her parents who seemingly aged overnight. So, I am sincere when I say that I have great hope that one day others with her injury might benefit from the research that is being done now.
On the other hand... the fact that this story aired in my area the day after Halloween certainly resonated with me. The Frankenstein images of scientists doing terrible things "because they can" is haunting. Your guest's response to the question about "strip mining humans" struck me as thoughtful and sincere, but I also found myself thinking of the terrible things that have been done to people in the name of science by people who thought they were doing the right thing. Bleeding patients, lobotomizing sufferers from mental illness, etc., was done by "scientists" who were doing the best they could with the knowledge they had at the time.
All of this is to say, your guest is a thoughtful, spiritual person. But as in any other field of human endeavor, not all who are in her field will be as principled. We do need to respond in a real way to that writer in Slate who raised the danger of "strip mining" humans in pursuit of scientific advancement. We do need to employ ethics panels and remain aware of the dangers as we move forward.
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