Stem cell research is headline news. Researchers are eager to move forward, state governments and private foundations are rushing to support it, and the sick and afflicted are desperate for its benefits. Yet powerful forces in our society — led by President George W. Bush — find it morally troubling and they are doing all in their powers to restrict its development beyond a very limited scale.
Stem cells, which have the remarkable potential to develop into different parts of the body, are actually harvested from aborted fetal tissue or newly fertilized cells. Proponents of stem cell research argue that scientists are making legitimate use of already aborted fetuses and it is unfair to deprive those who are suffering the benefits of a potentially revolutionary therapy. Yet this practice has raised sharp criticisms from the Religious Right, who charge that science is capitalizing on an abhorrent procedure.
Given the medical potential for treatment of incurable diseases by stem cell research, as well as the moral dilemmas this technology poses, should such research be permitted? What moral, religious, or political objections might be raised?
Philosophers Michael Ruse and Christopher A. Pynes have compiled this valuable, up-to-date, and newly revised collection of articles by noted experts to address all aspects of the stem cell controversy. The contributors — scientists, medical practitioners, philosophers, theologians, historians, and policy analysts — offer a variety of perspectives to give readers the critical tools they need to shape an informed position on the topic. Readers will come away with a deeper understanding of the science of stem cell research, its medical cures and promises, and the moral, religious, and policy concerns surrounding this controversial social issue.