Friday, March 13, 2009

Looks like we desperately need bioethics education ...

... for the media and politicians ... and medicos, too!

Here's the text of part of an interview former President Clinton did last night with Sanjay Gupta (who just turned down Mr. Obama's request that he be the Surgeon General!) -- I've added emphasis in case you don't have time to wade through the blah, blah, blah parts:

Gupta: Let's talk about something you talked a lot about in the early part of
your presidency, stem cells. There was an order today providing federal money
for embryonic stem cell research. First of all, let me just ask you, as someone
who studied this
, is this going to always be as divisive an issue as it is now?
Is this going to be the abortion of the next generation? Or are people going to
come around?

Clinton: I think - the answer is I think that we'll work it through. If - particularly if it's done right. If it's obvious that we're not taking embryos that can - that under any conceivable scenario would be used for a process that would allow them to be fertilized and become little babies, and I think if it's obvious that we're not talking about some science fiction cloning of human beings, then I think the American people will support this....

Gupta: Any reservations?

Clinton: I don't know that I have any reservations, but I was - he has apparently decided to leave to the relevant professional committees the definition of which frozen embryos are basically going to be discarded, because they're not going to be fertilized. I believe the American people believe it's a pro-life decision to use an embryo that's frozen and never going to be fertilized for embryonic stem cell research....But those committees need to be really careful to make sure if they don't want a big storm to be stirred up here, that any of the embryos that are used clearly have been placed beyond the pale of being fertilized before their use. There are a large number of embryos that we know are never going to be fertilized, where the people who are in control of them have made that clear. The research ought to be confined to those....But there are values involved that we all ought to feel free to discuss in all scientific research. And that is the one thing that I think these committees need to make it clear that they're not going to fool with any embryos where there's any possibility, even if it's somewhat remote, that they could be fertilized and become human beings.

H/T: Creative Minority Report

Just as an aside, here is a definition of embryo: In organisms that reproduce sexually, once a sperm fertilizes an egg cell, the result is a cell called the zygote that has half of the DNA of each of two parents. The resulting embryo derives 50 percent of its genetic makeup from each parent. In plants, animals, and some protists, the zygote will begin to divide by mitosis to produce a multicellular organism. The result of this process is an embryo.

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