Embryo Stem Cell Research: Ten Years of Controversy

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Abstract

This overview of 10 years of stem cell controversy reviews the moral conflict that has made ESCs so controversial and how this conflict plays itself out in the legal realm, focusing on the constitutional status of efforts to ban ESC research or ESC-derived therapies. It provides a history of the federal funding debate from the Carter to the Obama administrations, and the importance of the Raab memo in authorizing federal funding for research with privately derived ESCs despite the Dickey-Wicker ban on federal funding of embryo research. It also reviews the role that scientists themselves have played in developing regulations for ESC research, the emergence of ESCROs as special review bodies for ESC research, and the thorough consent requirements for donation of IVF embryos to ESC research. With research now transitioning from the lab to the clinic, the article reviews the challenges of ensuring safety and consent in translational research. It concludes with a call for respecting those persons who have to using or working with ESC products and an account of how obtaining stem cells from a person's own cells will alleviate some but not all of the controversy surrounding ESC research.

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