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Ethics of Stem Cell Research

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Research Papers on the ethics of stem cell research argue that as technology becomes more refined, the ethical questions raised by the technology become more persistent and more pervasive.  When the discovery of stem cells was first reported in the literature, the most pertinent ethical concern was whether or not harvesting stem cells from a fetus was considered morally and ethically acceptable.  Today, however, stem cell research has grown so extensively that the issue of the fetus as a fully-grown human has become secondary.  Ethics of Stem Cell ResearchConsidering the controversies that have erupted over the issues of privacy and confidentiality over the last several years, one author notes, “At this point, it is clear that far more issues remain unresolved than are settled, that there is largely unexplored territory ahead…”.

As stem cell research continues to expand and evolve, the reality for both laymen and the medical community is that ethics has reached a new level of uncharted territory.  Although technology has improved the quality of life for hundreds of thousand of individuals, it has also changed the way that the medical community looks at the issue of privacy.  For this reason, stem cell research can be seen as a double-edged sword.  On one hand it had the capacity to help millions. On the other, it has the potential to destroy millions more.

It is clear that when it comes to issues of privacy and fairness when obtaining information for genetic tests, there are no easy answers as to the most palatable method for handling this problem.  For this reason, protocols and information sharing will continue to vary widely across the scope of medical science.  Unfortunately, for some this may mean a revelation that is unwanted or unwelcome.  For others it will mean the reality of ignorance and uncertainty that accompanies a hospital’s privacy policy.  Attempting to discern which point has more validity in this case proves almost impossible.

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