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The United States has had one answer to that question written in its “birth certificate” – the Declaration of Independence – which states that “all men are created equal.” I think that examining this principle of human equality provides the right answer to this debate, but it is not a simple answer.Human equality doesn’t mean that every person is the same or that every person can even be valued in the same way on every scale.
A counterargument explaining the case embryonic stem cell research is made by Jonathan Moreno, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D. Featuring: Yuval Levin, Hertog Fellow and Director of the Bioethics and American Democracy Program, Ethics and Public Policy Center Interviewer: David Masci, Senior Research Fellow, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Recently, researchers in the United States and Japan successfully turned human skin cells into cells that behave like embryonic stem cells.
There has been some discussion that this advance makes the moral and ethical debate over embryonic stem cells moot. I think it’s going to take a while for the ethical debate to catch up with the science.
For some people, myself included, the ethical concerns are matters of principle and don’t change with new developments.
But for a lot of people, the stem cell debate has always been a matter of balance.
I think that balance has changed because of this advance, and having an alternative to embryonic stem cell research that achieves the same result will obviously affect the way people think about the ethics of this issue.
That doesn’t mean the scientists no longer have any use for embryonic stem cells or even that they won’t have any use for them.Currently, he is the Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., where he also directs the center’s Bioethics and American Democracy program.So I think that, in time, this probably will be the final chapter of this particular debate about embryonic stem cells, but I don’t think we’re at the end of it quite yet.Do you agree with Professor James Thomson, who led the American research team that made this breakthrough, when he maintains that this advance does not, for the time being, abrogate the need for embryonic stem cell research?Part of his argument for continuing to use embryonic stem cells was backward-looking to make the point that researchers wouldn’t have been able to develop this technique if they hadn’t been doing embryonic stem cell research.I think that’s true, although in a certain way it actually vindicates the logic of President Bush’s stem cell policy, which is to allow some work to be done – without creating an incentive for the destruction of further embryos – to advance the basic science in these kinds of directions.That doesn’t mean that I would think of an embryo in the same way that I would think of a three-year-old child, but I would reject a technique that uses either of them for scientific experimentation. The right to life is, in a way, drawn out of the political vocabulary of the Declaration of Independence.So in other words, even though you would grieve the death of a 50-year-old man more than a five-day-old embryo, on at least the most basic level you believe that they both have the same right to life. And so, to my mind, the argument at the heart of the embryonic stem cell debate is the argument about human equality.At the same time, many scientists say that embryonic stem cell research is necessary to unlock the promise of stem cell therapies since embryonic stem cells can develop into any cell type in the human body.In late 2007, researchers in the United States and Japan succeeded in reprogramming adult skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells.