24 January 2008

Beyond Consent

At a time when an “opt-out” system for organ donation is attracting strong opposition, it is extraordinary that deriving a clone or other embryo from a non-consenting child or older patient should be seen as acceptable ethically. There is a big difference between authorising research on one’s own cells alone, as with standard adult stem-cell research, and authorising the creation and destruction of human embryos or hybrid human entitites. Consent for the latter, highly controversial practices should never be presumed.
On Monday, a group of scientists wrote a letter in The Times objecting to a proposed ban on the generation of embryos in stem cell research using cells for which the donors did not, or could not, give specific consent. Today the paper publishes an excellent group response, picking up on some of the same ethical issues this blog highlighted earlier this month on the possible use of stem-cells from non-consenting adults and children.

Read the whole letter at Times Online.