We don’t have to choose between science and ethics. We can continue to pursue both.
White House spokesman Ken Lisaius on President Bush’s stated intention to veto legislation, currently under consideration in the Senate and similar to legislation passed by the House last year, that would expand current limits on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. From “Proponents Press Senate on Stem Cell Research Measure,” Washington Post, May 24, 2006.
How Happy Are You? How Happy Would You Like To Be?
The BBC has an interesting look at some current research on “artificial” happiness. Aimed primarily at therapeutic uses such as curing depression or assuaging severe pain, there is the potential for enhancement uses such as artificial happiness or synthetic emotion. Interestingly, a poll conducted by the BBC indicates that three out of four people would not take pills that would make them happy, even if there were no side effects.
So, dear readers, would you take a pill that would make you happy? Post a comment.
Eighty-year-old Mary Wohlford doesn’t want family members or health care workers to be confused about her wishes should she ever become incapacitated, so she came up with a creative solution: she had the words “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” tattooed on her chest.
“People might think I’m crazy, but that’s OK,” said Wohlford. “Sometimes the nuttiest ideas are the most advanced.” She said her decision was the result of what she witnessed during her almost 30 years in nursing and during the Terri Schiavo controversy. If Terri Schiavo had a “Do Not Resuscitate” tattoo, Wohlford said, “then her husband could have said, ‘See, it’s right here. This is what she wanted.’ But she verbalized it, so they had this big rigmarole.”
Would Wohlford’s tattoo stop an Iowa doctor from resuscitating her?
“According to Iowa law, the answer is no,” said Dr. Mark Purtle, who works in internal medicine at Iowa Methodist Medical Center. The tattoo, though, will serve as a reminder to Wohlford’s family members to check her advance directive – which she hangs on the side of her refrigerator.
If we use stem cells that have been taken from an umbilical cord, they have not been conditioned by a person’s immune system. Those cells are much more plastic, and we don’t need as exact a match genetically.
— Pediatric oncologist Dr. James McKinnell on umbilical cord stem cell transplants. From “Insurance Company OKs Boy’s Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Transplant,” KRQE, May 17, 2006.
Helane Rosenburg, also mentioned in the CBS article, is equally concerned for the emotional wellbeing of the egg buyer. As a fertility clinic egg donor coordinator, her job is to make sure couples understand “there are no guarantees” regarding the intellect or appearance of the child that may be produced. Interestingly enough, she makes perfectly clear to the young women from whom the eggs are procured “they’re not giving away a baby.” I’m happy to see that she is clear on the distinction between an egg and an embryo, but if these young woman are completely ignorant of the fact that their egg is going to become an embryo — a baby — and if Rosenburg is not fully informing them of this fact, then these women are truly victims of exploitation.
– Sarah J. Flashing
AFP reports that couples from a number of countries are coming to the US in order to select the sex of their children. The article reviews some common objections to sex selection — embryos of the wrong sex are destroyed, it could create sex ratio imbalances, it could lead to designer babies — and a fertility doctor, Jeffrey Steinberg, who offers sex selection responds, or to quote the article, “dismisses the three-pronged criticism.” He asserts that most embryos are left frozen, not destroyed, and, taken as a whole, his clients are evenly split on the sex they select. Finally, Steinberg says, “We are not moving in the direction of designer babies or cloning at all. People have been warning of that slippery slope since the first in-vitro baby was born more than 25 years ago, but we haven’t gone down it yet.”
Redesigning humans . . . that’s really what we’re about to embark upon.
— Dr. Gregory Stock, UCLA School of Medicine
The future of scientifically created humans is here today, and Los Angeles is at the epicenter for reproductive technology.
From sperm bank presidents and expectant surrogate mothers to gene designers and grown up designer babies, FROZEN ANGELS explores L.A.’s booming business of buying and selling DNA and the moral, ethical and legal dilemmas of this new frontier.
Kind of hard to square these two views, isn’t it? I’m afraid that Dr. Steinberg is mistaken.