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Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 2002 Jun;12(2):175-213.

The ethics of human stem cell research.

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Yale University, USA.


The medical and clinical promise of stem cell research is widely heralded, but moral judgments about it collide. This article takes general stock of such judgments and offers one specific resolution. It canvasses a spectrum of value judgments on sources, complicity, adult stem cells, and public and private contexts. It then examines how debates about abortion and stem cell research converge and diverge. Finally, it proposes to extend the principle of "nothing is lost" to current debates. This extension links historical discussions of the ethics of direct killing with unprecedented possibilities that in vitro fertilization procedures yield. A definite normative region to inhabit is located, within a larger range of rival value judgments. The creation of embryos for research purposes only should be resisted, yet research on "excess' embryos is permissible by virtue of an appeal to the "nothing is lost" principle.

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