Emerging Ethical, Legal and Social Issues Associated with Stem Cell Research & and the Current Role of the Moral Status of the Embryo
- 1.2k Downloads
Since its early days, stem cell research, particularly human embryonic stem cell research, has been the focus of intense social debate, and the question of the moral status of the embryo has been a central issue in the controversy. Despite this friction, and while it has yet to obtain widespread success in clinical applications, stem cell research remains a great hope for future advances in healthcare. In this paper, we will discuss the results of our systematic literature review in which we examined recent social science, legal and biomedical discourse, as well as Canadian print media discourse, associated with stem cell research in order to assess the role the question of the moral status of the embryo currently plays in these forums, and to identify what other issues are emerging and receiving attention. This analysis will assist with recognizing the issues which are likely to inform future policy and will facilitate forecasting the probable direction of the continually developing social discourse surrounding stem cell research.
KeywordsStem cell research Moral status Embryo Discourse Policy Emerging themes
This work was completed as part of the Canadian Stem Cell Network funded project, “The Stem Cell Research Environment: Drawing the Evidence and Experience Together”. Additional thanks go to all of the participants of the Lay of the Land workshop for their invaluable comments and advice, and to Erin Nelson and Michael McDonald for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper.
- 1.Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Updated guidelines for human pluripotent stem cell research. 2007. (Accessed February 12, 2009, at http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/34460.html.).
- 2.United Kingdom Stem Cell Initiative. Report & Recommendations, 2005. (Accessed February 12, 2009 at http://www.advisorybodies.doh.gov.uk/uksci/uksci-reportnov05.pdf.).
- 3.International Society for Stem Cell Research. Guidelines for the conduct of human embryonic stem cell research. 2006. (Accessed February 13, 2009 at http://www.isscr.org/guidelines/ISSCRhESCguidelines2006.pdf.).
- 4.Deckers, J. (2005). Why current UK legislation on embryo research is immoral. How the argument from lack of qualities and the argument from potentiality have been applied and why they should be rejected. Bioethics, 19(3), 251–271.Google Scholar
- 6.Lysagt, T., Ankeny, R., & Kerridge, I. (2006). The scope of public discourse surrounding proposition 71: Looking beyond the moral status of the embryo. Bioethical Inquiry, 3, 109–111.Google Scholar
- 7.Williams, C., Kitzinger, J., & Henderson, L. (2003). Envisaging the embryo in stem cell research: Rhetorical strategies and media reporting of the ethical debates. Sociology of Health & Illness, 25(7), 793–814.Google Scholar
- 8.President’s Council on Bioethics. (2002). Human cloning and human dignity: The report of the President’s Council on Bioethics. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
- 9.Priest, S., & Eyck, T. (2003). News coverage of biotechnology debates. Society, Sept/Oct, 29–34.Google Scholar
- 10.Nisbet, M., Brossard, D., & Kroepsch, A. (2003). Framing science: The stem cell controversy in an age of press/politics. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 8(2), 36–70.Google Scholar
- 11.Ten Eyck, T. (2005). The media and public opinion on genetics and biotechnology: Mirrors, windows, or walls? Public Understanding of Science, 14(3), 305–316. doi: 10.1177/0963662505052888.
- 13.Henderson, M. Stem-cell therapy gives hope to accident victims. The Times January 23, 2009. (Accessed February 12, 2009 at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article5569623.ece.).
- 14.Sample I. Revolutionary stem cell therapy boosts body’s ability to heal itself; British researchers hope treatment will repair heart attack damage or broken bones. The Guardian January 8, 2009. (Accessed February 12, 2009 at http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/jan/08/stem-cells-bone-marrow-heart-attack.).
- 15.Geddes L. Multiple sclerosis ‘reversed’ with stem cell therapy. NewScientist January 30, 2009. (Accessed February 12, 2009 at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16509-multiple-sclerosis-reversed-with-stem-cell-therapy.html.).
- 20.De Souza, R. J. A win for science – and human dignity. The National Post. December 20, 2007. (Accessed January 30, 2009 at http://www.nationalpost.com/scripts/story.html?id=ac9f267b-f811-4c65-aa98-2394feb695fa&k=15402.).
- 21.Kolata, G. Scientists bypass need for embryo to get stem cells. The New York Times November 21, 2007. (Accessed January 30, 2009 at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/21/science/21stem.html?_r=1&oref=slogin.)