Slow down, we move too fast

Time already (at last?) for our final quartet of bioethical cases and cautions from Glenn McGee. (I look forward to the revised and expanded edition.)

Case 57 prudently cautions against the “Kevorkianization” and “reality TV”-ization of cloning. Glenn says Ian Willmut should not have used that term to designate the procedure of  cellular nuclear transfer (“the most revolutionary and complex exercise of human procreative control in history”), should not have named his mammary cell-based sheep “Dolly,” and should not have embraced human reproductive cloning just when he did, amidst swirling debates on abortion and stem cells. Evidently he should have consulted a Bioethicist first.

Is it just me, or do the (mostly) stem cell-centered discussions here at the end feel more dated than their precursors? Like an uninvited blast from the Bush-era past, and Professor William Hurlbut gets way more than his eponymous fifteen minutes. He was the (Bush-era) Council on Bioethics member who proposed Altered nuclear transfer (ANT), aka “semantic nuclear transfer” (and “stupid nonsense,” and “snake oil,” and “voodoo”). It’s a “bogus” and “political” proposal. (Cue Tom DeLay, Jeb Bush, and former-Senator Frist…) There’s not much recent public discussion of ANT, that I could find. [Stem cells at TEDGina Kolata nytNIH on stem cellsWhat’s Next for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine? Sciam]

Just one last question, from the last case: “the biggest program in the nation in bioethics… would serve the public interest,” wouldn’t it?

And then Glenn’s conclusion cautions smartly, in the perfect set-up to our next and last texts this semester: let’s try to “slow the speed at which science advances.”  We must give bioethical discussion time to catch up to the pace of biomedical and biotechnological innovation. Let’s listen to Michael Sandel and read Richard Powers.

Next: The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering and Generosity: An Enhancement.


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