To date, the ethical discussion on human embryonic stem cell research has focused on the moral status of the embryo. This text explores many other ethical, legal and social issues involved in translating stem cell research into medical applications.
Human embryo research touches upon strongly felt moral convictions, and it raises such deep questions about the promise and perils of scientific progress that debate over its development has become a moral and political imperative. From in vitro fertilization to embryonic stem cell research, cloning, and gene editing, Americans have repeatedly struggled with how to define the moral status of the human embryo, whether to limit its experimental uses, and how to contend with sharply divided public moral perspectives on governing science.
Experiments in Democracy presents a history of American debates over human embryo research from the late 1960s to the present, exploring their crucial role in shaping norms, practices, and institutions of deliberation governing the ethical challenges of modern bioscience. J. Benjamin Hurlbut details how scientists, bioethicists, policymakers, and other public figures have attempted to answer a question of great consequence: how should the public reason about aspects of science and technology that effect fundamental dimensions of human life? Through a study of one of the most significant science policy controversies in the history of the United States, Experiments in Democracy paints a portrait of the complex relationship between science and democracy, and of U.S. society’s evolving approaches to evaluating and governing science’s most challenging breakthroughs.
Discussions and debates over the medical use of stem cells and cloning have always had a religious component. But there are many different religious voices. This anthology on how religious perspectives can inform the difficult issues of stem cell research and human cloning is essential to the discussion. Contributors reflect the spectrum of Christian responses, from liberal Protestant to evangelical to Roman Catholic. The noted moral philosopher, Laurie Zoloth, offers a Jewish approach to cloning, and Sondra Wheeler contributes her perspective on both Jewish and Christian understandings of embryonic stem cell research.
In addition to the discussions found here, God and the Embryo includes a series of official statements on stem cell research and cloning from religious bodies, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Rabbinical Council of America. “Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry,” from the statement of the President’s Council on Bioethics, concludes the book.
The debates and the discussions will continue, but for anyone interested in the nuances of religious perspectives that make their important contributions to these ethically challenging and important dialectics, God and the Embryo is an invaluable resource.