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Bioethics 101

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July 31, 2006

Bioethics in the News — July 31

  • Drug Debate (MSNBC)
  • Stem Cells: The Hope And The Hype (Time)
  • Stem cell ethics challenging (CourierPress)
  • Op-Ed: The Frankenstein syndrome (Washington Times)
  • IVF Price To Be Reduced If Women Opt For Egg Sharing Scheme (MedIndia)
  • Banking umbilical cords has its limitations (C-Health)
  • Medical care goes offshore (Monterey Herald)
  • Brain ethics (Radio Netherlands)
  • Op-Ed: Gene machinery allows a little self-editing (USA Today)
  • Blair to lure US stem cell firms (BBC)
  • Homeopathy: Natural Approach or All a Fake? (HealthDay)
  • Recycling Medical Devices Raises Concerns (AP)
  • Surgical tool trade ethics fears (BBC)

July 28, 2006

Bioethics in the News — July 28

July 27, 2006

Bioethics in the News — July 27

  • New Orleans arrests spark ‘mercy killing’ debate (Las Vegas Tribune)
  • Op-ed:Flawed facts on stem cells (The Examiner)
  • Psychologists’ Group Under Fire (AP)
  • Stem-Cell Issue A Boon For Democrats? (CBS News)
  • UK: Half-price IVF offer if women donate eggs (The Herald)
  • Rare Disease Reported in Transplants (AP)

July 25, 2006

Bioethics in the News — July 25

  • Analysis: More organs a heartbeat away? (UPI)
  • Vatican calls EU decision on funding for stem cell research ‘unacceptable’ (AP)
  • South Korean Scientist Denies Embezzling (AP)
  • Experimental pill may prevent Alzheimer’s (Reuters)
  • For-profit Research Ethics Committees: How Are They Performing? (Softpedia News)
  • Stem Cell Work Gets States’ Aid After Bush Veto (New York Times)

July 24, 2006

Bioethics in the News — July 24

  • EU to Continue Stem-Cell Research Funding (AP)
  • Brain’s Stem Cells Hold Clues to Cancer (HealthDay)
  • Judge Orders Teen to Cancer Treatment (AP)
  • Fat stem cells turn into muscle in US experiment ()
  • Snow Apologizes for Stem Cell Comment (AP)
  • FDA rules to regulate drug company influence (Reuters)

Terminology Troubles

While defending President Bush’s veto of legislation to expand federally financed research on embryonic stem cells, White House press secretary Tony Snow said,”The president believes strongly that for the purpose of research it’s inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder. He’s one of them.” Today, though, Snow had to do some back-pedaling. When asked if Bush considered it murder, Snow said: “He would not use that term.”

Snow said he was sorry the remark became a subject for White House chief of staff Josh Bolten in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. But Bolton also has his own terminology troubles. “The president thinks that that embryo, that fertilized embryo, is a human life that deserves protection,” Bolten said. “I haven’t spoken to [the President] about the use of particular terminology. ”

Before Bolten has that talk with Bush, he might want to learn the terminology himself. Is it any wonder that many Americans confuse “eggs” with “embryos” when the President’s own advisor uses terms such as “fertilized embryo?”

July 21, 2006

Comment Procedure — Bumped to Top

Over the weekend, someone pointed out to me the complicated nature of the commenting process. As an author, I’m always logged in, so I wasn’t aware of what visitors had to go through post comments. In short, the commenting procedure has just been revised to make it easier to weigh-in on the posts.

Please avail yourself of the easier commenting procedure and let us know what you think about our posts.

Also, we soon will have some new authors joining us. More soon . . .

Stem Cells: Adult vs. Embryonic

National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez interviews Dr. David Prentice on the debate over adult vs. embryonic stem cells.

Lopez: As you listen to the debate in Washington — what’s most misunderstood about stem-cell research?

Dr. Prentice: 1) The hope of stem cells vs. the reality of what’s really been shown with various types of stem cells, embryonic vs. adult.

2) The idea that current “approved” lines of embryonic stem cells are “disintegrating” and “contaminated.”

Read the whole thing.

Bioethics in the News — July 21

  • Governor funds stem cell research (AP)
  • Faith drives some to refuse patients medication or care (Washington Post)
  • Ethics questions posed to expert (Lexington Herald-Leader)
  • Germany seeking ban on stem-cell research funding (Gulf Times)
  • Unlike stem cells, placental cells show promise without the ethics dilemma (Sun-Sentinel)
  • Austin company banks stem cells from baby teeth (AP)
  • Illinois Gov. Funds Stem Cell Research (AP)
  • Brain’s Stem Cells Hold Clues to Cancer (HealthDay)
  • Stem Cell Legislation Could Alter Science Forever (HealthDay)
  • SmartPill travels body, diagnoses stomach pain (MSNBC)

Bush Not Alone

On the heels of President Bush’s veto of an attempt to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research in the United States comes word that Germany’s research minister, Annette Schavan, has sent a letter to the European Union pressing for a ban on European funding of embryonic stem cell research.

The European Union science programme should not be used to give financial incentives to kill embryos . . . The current proposal from the European Commission and the European Parliament does not rule this out.

Setting the Journal Science Straight

Robert George and Patrick Lee skillfully dismantle a recent attack — launched as a letter to the editors of the journal Science — on DoNoHarm’s list of adult stem cell benefits to human patients. Excerpts:

The letter was timed to coincide with the debate and vote in the United States Senate on the Bush stem cell funding policy. Dr. Prentice was given no opportunity to publish a response. Indeed, the timing scarcely enabled him to compose, much less publish anywhere, a rebuttal before the Senate floor debate.

. . .

the claim that Neaves and his co-authors refute is not the claim that Prentice made. This is a blatant instance of the classical fallacy Ignoratio Elenchi (also called “irrelevant conclusion”: presenting an argument that may actually prove something, but something quite different from what you claim it proves). They have distorted (by exaggeration) Prentice’s claim, refuted the distorted version of the claim, and then impugned Prentice’s integrity for allegedly making it. This is blatant rhetorical abuse.

Worth reading for content as well as for method of argument.

July 20, 2006

Every Patient had Improvement

The peer-reviewed Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine contains an article (PDF) by a doctor in Lisbon Portugal who is treating spinal cord injury patients with their own stem cells. This is the same doctor who treated Jacki Rabon, a young lady who told her story at a June “Toast to Adult and Cord Blood Stem Cells” (video here).

HT: Secondhand Smoke

Bioethics in the News — July 20

  • Medical and Ethical Questions Raised on Deaths of Critically Ill Patients (New York Times)
  • For Christian Physician, Ethics Trump Science (Tampa Tribune)
  • S.Korea wants to strip stem cell scientist of medal (Reuters)
  • Op-Ed: The Health Care Choice Act (Hawaii Reporter)
  • Studies back up U of L stem-cell findings (Courier-Journal)
  • CMS launches Medicaid fraud initiative (Hospital Connect)
  • Congress’ Top 10 Stem-Cell Flubs (Wired)
  • Malaysia to End Hiring of Foreign Doctors (AP)
  • Drug errors injure more than 1.5 million a year (MSNBC)
  • Language a Widening Barrier to Health Care (HealthDay)
  • First Bush Veto Maintains Limits on Stem Cell Use (New York Times)

Stem Cell Hope

James P. Kelly, a man who suffered a spinal cord injury in 1997 is probably all for embryonic stem cell research, right? Nope. In fact, he calls President Bush’s veto “A Cause for Hope.”

Mr. Kelly has chronicled his personal journey from embryonic stem cell support to its opposition in a series of articles for the Seoul Times:
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

July 19, 2006

The Veto Holds

Associated Press: “the House voted 235-193 to overturn Bush’s veto, 51 short of the required two-thirds majority.”

Maryland: Health Care Spending Mandate Struck Down

The law would have required large employers in the state such as Wal-Mart (on whose behalf the challenge was filed) to spend 8% of payroll on employee health care. A federal judge rejected the law on the grounds that it “violated federal law which promotes uniform treatment of employers.”

While this law struck me as creative thinking on how to solve the problem of rising costs for the state to care for the uninsured, I’m not surprised that it’s been struck down. What if Wal-Mart could meet the need for less than 8% of payroll? What if 8% would not meet the need in any meaningful way? The judge concluded “the law would have hurt Wal-Mart by requiring it to track and allocate benefits for its Maryland employees in a different way from how it keeps track of employee benefits in other states.”


Associated Press:

This bill would support the taking of innocent human life of the hope of finding medical benefits for others. It crosses a moral boundary that our society needs to respect, so I vetoed it.
–President Bush

Science or Pseudoscience?

Michael Fumento weighs in on a recent controversy over the actual number of diseases and conditions that adult stem cells help. He points out

For that matter, aspirin is a drug but by [the writers and editors of Science] standards it only has potential use for aches and pains since it never went through the clinical-trial process and the FDA has never given it formal approval.

Read the whole thing.

Bioethics in the News — July 19

  • Attorneys Say Doctor, Nurses Innocent (AP)
  • Op-Ed: Science’s Stem-Cell Scam (National Review)
  • Op-Ed: Anti-Life, Anti-Science (National Review)
  • How profits, research mix at Stanford med school (San Jose Mercury News)
  • Alzheimer’s Skin Patch on Horizon (Wired)
  • Ethicists: No way to justify mercy deaths (AP)
  • House Moves to Protect Pledge From Courts (Guardian Unlimited)
  • Race Is On For Stem Cell Dollars (Fox 61)
  • Most scientists refute White House appraisal of stem cell research (Chicago Tribune)
  • Netcare invests in stem cells (Sunday Times)
  • After the Veto: Placental Cells? (Wired)

Science and Faith

Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, has a written a book entitled, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. Looking at the reviews on Amazon, people of faith are receiving the book favorably, but it will be interesting to see how scientists receive it.

Storming the Castle

National Review online has an article on an attack in the House of Representatives on the “alternatives” bill that passed the Senate 100-0 yesterday. In the article, Richard Doerflinger refutes point by point a memo sent around by Representatives Mike Castle (R- DE).


The Bioethics Poll
Should individuals and/or institutions be allowed to patent human genes?
Yes, with some qualifications

View results

Which area of research should more money be invested in:
Animal-Human Hybrids
Gene Therapy
Reproductive Technology
Stem Cell Research
"Therapeutic" Cloning
None of the above

View results

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