Monday, November 2, 2009

Stem Cell confusion - Speaking of Faith

This weekend, out of curiosity, I listened to Speaking of Faith in a different way. Since the uncut interview was placed in SOF's podcast feed, I decided to listen to this raw material first and then go to the official radio broadcast (and podcast) Stem Cells, Untold Stories - interview with Doris Taylor.

To make a long critique short: the program is better. The raw material really is elevated to greater expression, greater meaning. The issues come out more distinct and more focussed. And this issue is Stem Cell therapy. Doris Taylor is a scientist who works with stem cells and gets all the room Speaking of Faith can give to show how Stem Cell therapy and research can be and should be done morally. She defuses the ideas that the use stem cells involve aborting embryos for the sake of science and medicine and lead to limitless quest for naturalistic knowledge. The way she sees it, the cells that are used are either not coming at the expense of life, or are cells from fertilized eggs that are otherwise thrown away and there, at least technically, do not go at the expense of life. And in turn, stem cell research and therapy, radicalize medicine and creates hope for life for people with heart conditions or with cystic fibrosis, to name but a few examples.

Though this certainly doesn't take the sting out of the critique of stem cell technology, she may have a point that the public debate has been contaminated. It has unnecessarily been drawn into this seeming discussion about whether 'life' could be 'used'. This she attributes to the terminology as it became established. Embryonic stem cells, are in the parlance and apart from making the term emotionally laden, it is technically wrong as the cells are not embryonic (not even those from fertilized eggs). The quality of this show was that it took the technical angle, without becoming too technical and could begin to enter the social and moral implications.

More SOF:
Preserving Ojibwe,
The story and God,
Fragility and Humanity,
The Sunni-Shia divide and the future of Islam,
Wangari Maathai.

More on stem cells:
The bioethics concern,
Regenerative Medicine - Stanford,
Straight Talk about Stem Cell Research,
The Ethics of Stem Cell Research,
Human rights and the body,
Life and bio-engineering - podcast review,
Bioethics without Christ, please,
A useful map into Bio-Ethics,
Stem Cell Research: Science, Ethics, and Prospects,
Stem Cell,
Stem Cells - Biology and Politics.