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home > ebr > winter 2002 > principled pragmatism: the uk perspective on embryonic stem cell research
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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Principled Pragmatism: The UK Perspective on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The debate about embryonic stem cell research, in this country and elsewhere, has demonstrated how much concern there is to proceed morally with our scientific endeavours. Scientific and medical research does not take place in a moral or social vacuum, it has a context. The debate was not one of science versus morality. When the UK parliament debated the subject in 2000-2001, one member commented: "I ask the House not to regard this issue as an argument between ethics and science, because it is not. The ethical arguments cut both ways. On one hand, some argue that it is always wrong to carry out research with embryos because it involves human life. I respect those views. On the other hand, there are ethical arguments about the potential to end the suffering of people, who are already alive, by the use of embryos that would otherwise be destroyed. There are ethical arguments in both directions."


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By Claire Foster, Public Affairs Unit of The Church of England

Claire Foster works in the Public Affairs Unit of the Church of England.
Her function is to assist the Church in offering a constructive and informed response to current issues in science, medicine, technology and environmental issues.

She was previously a Research Fellow at the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics, King's College, London and specialised in the ethics of medical research on humans, publishing a book of that title in 2001.

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Claire Foster
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