Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ethics? We don't need no stinkin' ethics.

So much for that stem cell ethics committee in New York, eh? From this editorial by Daniel Sulmasy it sounds like Governor Spitzer created the ethics committee just to appear as if he actually cared.
Ethics-committee members hold diverse views on the controversial kinds of stem-cell research. Nonetheless, the committee unanimously recommended that the board hold off on funding these practices for six months so that the committee could examine these thorny ethical issues carefully and recommend guidelines.

The ethics committee thought that ethics mattered.

But perhaps ethics doesn't matter much in New York. The board's funding committee, composed almost exclusively of scientists and advocates for embryonic-stem-cell research, agreed on ambiguous guidelines that permit all the controversial practices noted above: cloning, chimeras, parthenogenesis and creating human embryos solely for research.
Full-speed ahead. Ethics (or even any discussion of them) be damned.
The ethics committee's sensible plan of ethical due diligence proved intolerable to the funding committee. It argued that even temporary limits would "send the wrong message to scientists."
And we wouldn't want those poor, little scientists to worry about what's ethical or not. They might leave for another state if they don't what they want when they want it.
This precipitous funding decision sends the wrong message - namely, that the discussion of research ethics should never encumber scientists' work. That's a dangerous premise for any society to hold. Was a six-month delay to allow ethical review really too much to ask? It's preposterous to propose that this would've had a "chilling effect" on science.

Note to Spitzer: Just because New York is known as the Empire State, that doesn't make you the Emperor.

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