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Perspectives on Stem Cell Research


Before we can use the stem cells, we must analyze the morality of this situation. ... Embryos are already destined to die or be thrown away; might as well conduct ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Perspectives on Stem Cell Research

Perspectives on Stem Cell Research
  • Kastenberg Neha Agarwal
  • E124 Ravi Murthi
  • Term Project Katherine Wang
  • May 13, 2003 Connie Wong

Stem Cell Research Contents
  • What Stem Cells Are
  • Ethical Theories
  • Eastern and Western Religious Perspectives
  • Legalities
  • Mesoethics

Stem Cell Research What are Stem Cells?
  • Stem Cells Are
  • Undifferentiated primitive cells
  • Have the ability to multiply and differentiate
    into specific kinds of cells
  • Can grow specialized cells/tissue to treat
  • - Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Diabetes

Stem Cell Research What are Stem Cells?
  • Uncontroversial Sources of Stem Cells
  • Umbilical cord
  • Placenta
  • Adults
  • Baby teeth
  • Controversial Sources of Stem Cells
  • Frozen embryos from IVF Clinics
  • - Controversial because kill embryo when
    obtaining stem cells
  • Aborted Fetuses
  • - Controversial because obtaining stem cells
    from dead baby

Stem Cell Research Ethical Theories
  • Utilitarianism
  • Communitarianism
  • Kantianism
  • Rights Based Theory
  • Care Ethics
  • Situational Ethics

Stem Cell Research Ethical Theories
  • The Situation
  • A married couple has a four year old son who is
    suffering from a disease known as Thalassemia.
    The couple is currently undergoing in-vitro
    fertilization to select an embryo that will be
    compatible with their four year old son. This
    way, after the baby is born, stem cells from its
    umbilical can be used to cure the son.
  • Although the life of the donor of the stem cells
    is being spared, there are still many ethical
    issues that are raised.
  • Before we can use the stem cells, we must analyze
    the morality of this situation.

Stem Cell Research Ethical Theories
  • Utilitarianism
  • Greatest amount of good for the greatest amount
    of people
  • Practical
  • Does not consider values
  • Analysis of Situation
  • If son gets cured, he is benefiting along with
    his two parents.
  • Three out of the four members of the family are
    gaining, thus under utilitarianism, the use of
    stem cells is ethical in this case.
  • The in-vitro babys condition does not matter in
    this case because the greatest amount of good has
    been achieved.

Stem Cell Research Ethical Theories
  • Communitarianism
  • Community based theory
  • Ethics is defined by what is the common good
  • Different than utilitarianism because considers
  • Emphasizes family values and community values
  • Analysis of situation
  • Although the family may be benefiting, this
    situation may result in a slippery slope
  • Families may have undesired children just to have
    spare stem cells that could be used in the
  • Although the greatest good has been achieved for
    the family, the common good may be questioned

Stem Cell Research Ethical Theories
  • Kantianism
  • Upholding obligations for the sake of obligation
    and not for an ulterior motive
  • Rule based
  • Analysis of situation
  • The parents are having a second child not just
    for the sake of having a second child.
  • The parents have an ulterior motive which is to
    use the stem cells created by the baby.

Stem Cell Research Ethical Theories
  • Rights Based Theory
  • Preserving the right of all parties
  • Rights include liberty and expression
  • Protects oppression, unequal treatment, and
    arbitrary invasion.
  • Analysis of situation
  • The babys right to freedom of expression is
    being taken away if one believes the embryo is a
    full human being.
  • Will the two children of this couple grow up with
    equal treatment?

Stem Cell Research Ethical Theories
  • Care Ethics
  • Defined by emotions felt in close relationships
    such as sympathy, compassion, fidelity, and love.
  • Analysis of situation
  • Since the parents care for the first child, it is
    ethical for them to try to save their child.
  • Yet are they giving enough care to their second
    child as a result of using their second child to
    cure their first?
  • Unclear, further analysis is required.

Stem Cell Research Ethical Theories
  • Situational Ethics
  • Derived from specific situations
  • Does this situation precede the universal rule
  • Analysis of situation
  • Were the parents intending on having a second
  • Is there any other way the boy can be cured?
  • What are the risks involved for the second child
    after it has been selected?

Stem Cell Research Ethical Theories
  • Is it ethical?
  • We agree with Kant. If the parents intended on
    the second child before they were aware of the
    boys condition, then we think it is ethical for
    them to use the stem cells.
  • We also emphasize the common good. We must
    understand the effects our decision will have on
    society. The risks must be acceptable.

Stem Cell Research Eastern and Western Religions
  • Western Religions
  • Christianity
  • Judaism
  • Eastern Religions
  • Daoism
  • Confucianism
  • Buddhism
  • Islam

Stem Cell Research Eastern and Western Religions
  • Overall Consensus
  • All religions believe that usage of adult,
    placental, and umbilical stem cells is acceptable
  • Controversy lies with idea of using embryonic
    stem cells and where life begins

Stem Cell ResearchWestern Religions
  • Christianity
  • Against the usage of embryonic stem cells
  • - Life begins at conception-ensouled existence
  • - Killing embryo any time after conception is
    equivalent to killing a human being
  • - Pressure to legalize coming form biotech firms
    and pharmaceutical companies to get profit
  • - Embryonic cells have not produced anything
    significant so far
  • - Slippery slope
  • Australian 2000 chimeras
  • SF 2001 Mice with ¼ brain cells being human in
  • - Should not be testing on humans because embryo
    has no say
  • We firmly reject any and all manipulation of
    human embryos for research purposes as inherently
    immoral and a fundamental violation of human
  • -Bishops of the Orthodox Church

Stem Cell Research Western Religions
  • Judaism
  • For embryonic stem cell research
  • "a fetus is not seen as being an ensouled person.
    Not only are the first forty days of conception
    considered 'like water' but also even in the last
    trimester, the fetus has a lesser moral status.
  • -Writing of Judaism
  • Obligation to use unwanted embryos to benefit
    people already living
  • Failure to conduct research on embryonic stem
    cells in violation of religious teachings
  • Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism says
    it is immoral and unethical to cut off funds
    for promising research
  • June 2000
  • Rabbis Elliot Dorff, Moshe Dovid Tendler, and
    Laurie Zoloth give testimony to these ideas to
    National Bioethics Advisory Committee

Stem Cell ResearchEastern Religions-
  • Buddhism
  • Controversial on embryonic stem cell research
  • Advocates
  • Central virtues of knowledge and compassion
  • Want to alleviate human suffering
  • Opponents
  • - First precept of Buddhism prohibits causing
    death or injury to living creatures
  • - Ahimsa- non harming
  • - Life begins at conception karmic identity of
    recently deceased individual
  • - No enduring soul
  • Self is seen as a continuum
  • New consciousness neither same or totally new
    from previous one
  • - Doesnt matter if embryos left over or frozen
    it is still killing life
  • - Doesnt matter what benevolent purposes are
  • Possible use of stem cells from aborted fetuses
  • - Advocates say fetus is already dead using
    stem cells like donating an organ
  • - Opponents say it is like using money from a
    stolen bank for charitable funds and is

Stem Cell ResearchEastern Religions
  • Daoism
  • Against using embryonic stem cells
  • - Wu Wei non purposeful action going with the
  • - Preserving life, celebrates being
  • - Organic, wholeness
  • - Nurturing like mother

Stem Cell ResearchEastern Religions
  • Confucianism
  • Against using embryonic stem cells
  • - Natural patterns constitute moral guidelines
  • - Desire to transgress natural patterns destroys
    equilibrium of the world and humane ordering of
    worldly affairs.

Stem Cell ResearchEastern Religions
  • Islam
  • Embryo Stem Cells OK based on
  • - Distinction between actual life and potential
  • - Embryo not a human unless it is in a womb (its
    natural environment)
  • Cant become a human in a petri dish has
    potential but not yet a human
  • - Embryo not a human until after 42 days
  • - Obligatory if will help suffering
  • Limitations
  • - Use ones that would only be discarded from IVF
  • - Embryos made for the sake of reproduction if
    not used, would be frozen or thrown away
  • - Prevent excess creation of embryos
  • - Difference between frozen embryos that would
    be thrown away as opposed to those that would be
    made in excess
  • - Continue research in adult stem cells

Stem Cell ResearchEastern and Western Religions
  • Conclusion
  • No general consensus over all the religions
  • Western and Eastern overlap some in stand against
    using embryonic stem cells
  • Still hotly debated

Stem Cell Research Legalities
  • Pose some related ethical questions along the way
  • Start with a few countries and then talk more
    specifically about the U.S.

Stem Cell Research Legalities
  • Other Countries
  • United Kingdom
  • - The Human Fertilization and Embryology Act of
    1990 allowed therapeutic cloning and stem cell
  • - Anti-abortion activists were able to strike
    down the provision recently
  • Australia
  • - Companies claim they can now create stem cell
    lines from embryos created through
    parthenogenesis (reproduction without
  • - Advocates say that these embryos can never
    become humans
  • - Those in opposition still contest this method
    is illegal under violation of the Prohibition of
    Human Cloning Act of 2002

Stem Cell Research Legalities
  • U.S.
  • Bush bars federal funds for stem cell research on
    stem cell cultures created after August 9, 2001
  • Researchers claim old cultures were useful to do
    studies for a while, but
  • - The quality of these cells are poor
  • - New stem cells must be used in order to make
  • California
  • - In September 2002, Governor Gray Davis signed
    a bill allocating 12 million dollars to Stanford
    University and permitting stem cell research
  • - Ethical issue for Catholics is that Governor
    Davis is one, but most do not feel a person can
    be both Catholic and for stem cell research

Stem Cell Research Legalities
  • U.S. (contd)
  • Currently
  • - Talks going on all over the nation.
  • - May 1, 2003 The Statehouse launched its first
    in-depth debate about the use of cloned embryos
    to conduct stem cell research.
  • - May 10, 2003 Chicago Earthquakes rookie Todd
    Dunivant contributed two bone-marrow transplants
    to save brother suffering from leukemia
  • - Bills are being put forth to try and establish
    a specific framework for enhancing stem cell
    research. These could ultimately have
    therapeutic affects on the entire human race.

Stem Cell Research Legalities
  • Ethical Question
  • How can we not pursue the possible cures for
    illnesses such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons,
    diabetes, breast cancer, spinal cord injuries,
  • Advocates argue that if we exercised
    narrow-minded judgments, we would still be
    looking for cures to tuberculosis, polio, etc.

Stem Cell Research Mesoethics
  • Government funds in stem cell/bio tech has a say
    in how money is used
  • Corporate ethics often conflict with micro or
    individual ethics, and macro ethics-societal
  • Striking a middle ground between corporate
    interests (scientific advancements) and
    individual, societal values

Stem Cell Research Mesoethics
  • A Corporate Example
  • Geron-Stem Cell RD Co.
  • - Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC)
  • - Realize controversy
  • - Honest effort to inform public without swaying
  • - CEO Thomas Okarma states
  • Its important for us to avoid influencing the
    public debate. Our technology has ethical
    implications, and for us to be an ethical company
    itd be wrong to lobby for support convincing
    people to see things our way.

Stem Cell Research Mesoethics
  • Ethics Advisory Board (EAB)
  • Bioethicists hired as consultants
  • Advice for whole entire company including RD,
    marketing, big picture rather than individual
  • No financial interest or connection with Geron
  • Consists of philosophical, scientific, technical,
    product development members

Stem Cell Research Mesoethics
  • Gerons Response to EAB
  • Geron not obligated to EABs advice
  • Geron highly regards EAB
  • - Example
  • - Geron was going to fund a new research but
    since several EAB members objected, they decided
    not to pursue it.
  • Ethics won over commercialism

Stem Cell Research Bigger Picture
  • Huge fundings ever growing
  • especially in CA
  • The biotech industry is pressuring us to develop
    an ethical approach to stem cell research and
  • A middle ground exists for scientific
    advancement, economic growth and individual
    ethical values
  • KEY REALIZATION and understanding of DIFFERENT

Stem Cell Research Should We Allow It?
  • Groups General Consensus
  • Yes,
  • Embryos are already destined to die or be thrown
    away might as well conduct research on these
    discarded cells
  • Not taking advantage of this research would leave
    our race in a stagnant position
  • A life is not being taken away
  • But
  • Companies need to be aware of and address
    societal concerns in terms of conducting research
    with embryos
  • We need to be aware of over creating embryos for
    the sake of stem cell research
  • Continue research in adult stem cells

Stem Cell Research Sources Used
  • Beauchamp, T.L. and Childress, J.F. Principles
    of Biomedical Ethics 5thed. Oxford University
    Press, 2001.
  • Cibelli, Jose B., Lanza, Robert P., and West,
    Michael, with Ezzel, Carol. The First Human
    Cloned Embryo. Scientific American. New York,
    New York January 2002.
  • de la Mothe, John and Jorge Niosi., ed. The
    Economic and Social Dynamics of Biotechnology.
    Boston Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000.
  • Dhanda, Rahul K. Guiding Icarus Merging
    Bioethics with Corporate Interests. New York
    John Wiley Sons, 2002.
    OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY A Statement of the Holy
    Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in
    America. Orthodox Church in America, 2002.
  • Killion, Ann. The Best Assist. San Jose
    Mercury News. San Jose San Jose Mercury News,
    May 10, 2003.
  • Lahn, Bruce. Stem Cell Research Separating
    Eternal Human Drive from Contemporary Cultural
    SURPRISING VIEW. The Religious Consultation on
    Population, Reproductive Health Ethics.
  • Religious Views on Stem Cell Research.
    Perspectives. May 9, 2003.
  • Siddiqi, Dr. Muzammil. An Islamic Perspective
    on Stem Cells Research. The Sabr Foundation.
  • Tucker, Elizabeth. Confucianism/Neoconfucianism
    and Taoism. (Class Handout)
  • Unit 3 Rebirth and Kamma. Introduction to
    Buddhism Course. 2003.