CREDIT: "Dan S" <firstname.lastname@example.org> and "Fox News"
TOPIC: Genomic Research: Theological, Legal & Medical Controversies
~ BIOETHICISTS PLAY REFEREE ~
11.00 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) October 22, 1999 By Michael P. Regan
NEW YORK — It was one of thousands of letters bearing the president's signature and only contained three paragraphs of type on that classic, understated White House stationery.
Yet, unlike the countless messages of thanks and congratulations that make up much of the president's correspondence, this was one of those rare letters that could affect history.
"Dear Dr. [Harold] Shapiro," Clinton greeted the chairman of the National
Bioethics Advisory Commission, "This week's report [November 1998] of the creation of an embryonic stem cell that is part human and part cow raises the most serious of ethical, medical and legal concerns. I am deeply troubled by this news of experiments involving the mingling of human and non-human species."
Clinton is not alone. Lawmakers in the Capitol and state houses across the U.S. are struggling to get a handle on the complex scientific advances that have occurred in recent years. Some sound like life-saving miracles, while others raise fears of mad scientists on the loose.
Many of these advancements, from cloning to stem-cell research, in-vitro
fertilization, and bacteriology, often find their proponents accused of
"playing God." And practitioners of a growing field of philosophical science
known as bioethics are the ones called upon to act as referees in the bouts between religion and science.