Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pew Poll Compares Public's Views on Morality of Abortion vs. Other Embryo-Destroying Procedures

Pew Research - Religion & Public Life Project: Abortion Viewed in Moral Terms: Fewer See Stem Cell Research and IVF as Moral Issues:

Regardless of their views about the legality of abortion, most Americans think that having an abortion is a moral issue. By contrast, the public is much less likely to see other issues involving human embryos – such as stem cell research or in vitro fertilization – as a matter of morality. . . .

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Lifenews seems somewhat puzzled by the discrepancy:

A new Pew research poll finds Americans say abortion is morally wrong by a 3-1 margin. However, Americas are still divided on the issue of embryonic stem cell research — even though it destroys human life and still has not helped any patients. . . .

But perhaps anti-choice groups themselves are partly to blame:

The Atlantic Wire: Americans See Abortion, But Not Stem Cell Research, as a Moral Issue, by Abby Ohl Heiser:

. . . While the issue is currently framed in "momentum" language familiar to any election horse race aficionado, our views on its legalization overall have stayed pretty steady since Roe v. Wade. . . . So what's momentum got to do with it?

For starters, the far-right legislative push to pass a series of abortion-restricting laws is bringing a cornucopia of moral associations with it, ones that resonate with conservative-leaning politics. . . .

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For scholarly analysis of this issue, see my articles The Meaning of 'Life': Belief and Reason in the Abortion Debate and Roe v. Wade's 40th Anniversary: A Moment of Truth for the Anti-Abortion-Rights Movement?

-CEB

August 17, 2013 in Abortion, Bioethics, Public Opinion, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Research Shows Promise for Use of Embryonic Stem Cells to Restore Sight

The Guardian: Embryonic stem cells could help restore sight to blind, by Alok Jha:

Stem cellPhotoreceptors grown from embryonic stem cells have been successfully implanted in the retinas of blind mice

Scientists have shown that light-sensitive retinal cells, grown in the lab from stem cells, can successfully integrate into the eye when implanted into blind mice. The technique opens up the possibility that a similar treatment could help people who have become blind through damage to their retinas to regain some of their sight. . . .

July 21, 2013 in Science, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Supreme Court Declines to Review Challenge to Obama's Stem Cell Research Policy

Stem cellThe Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court rejects challenge to Obama stem cell policy, by David G. Savage:

The Supreme Court has turned away a challenge to President Obama’s policy of expanding government-funded research using embryonic stem cells that scientists say may offer hope for new treatments for spinal injuries and Parkinson’s disease.

The court’s action brings a quiet end to a lawsuit that briefly threatened to derail all funding for such research. . . .

January 7, 2013 in In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Stem Cell Research, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Stem Cell Research Produces Small But Steady Gains

Stem cellThe Atlantic: 2013: Year of the Stem Cell, by Lindsay Abrams:

Researchers have already safely injected stem cells into patients with neurodegenerative diseases and spinal cord injuries -- and they've seen the potential to vastly improve lives.

. . . In 1998, when human embryonic stem cells were first isolated, we anticipated a "rush of medical advances," as The New York Times put it. That promise -- along with all of the ensuing controversy -- is still alive, has already become reality in select cases -- for example, with bone marrow transplantations -- and still has plans to live up to all of the expectations that have been set for it.

"The question now," the Times wrote then, "is what use can be made of the potentially awesome power to rejuvenate human cells." After 15 years, there are a lot of people waiting for a miracle, for the day cell-based therapy gives back what's been taken from them.

December 28, 2012 in Medical News, Science, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Two Scientists Receive Nobel for Cloning and Stem Cell Research

The New York Times: Cloning and Stem Cell Work Earns Nobel, by Nicholas Wade:

Two scientists who were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday helped lay the foundation for regenerative medicine, the hotly pursued though still distant idea of rebuilding the body with tissues generated from its own cells. They are John B. Gurdon of the University of Cambridge in England and Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan. . . .

October 9, 2012 in Scholarship and Research, Science, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 24, 2012

D.C. Circuit Upholds Federal Funding of Stem Cell Research

NBC News: Court rules controversial stem cell research is legal, by Maggie Fox:

Stem cellThe federal government may continue to pay for controversial human embryonic stem cell research, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

The three-judge panel says the government has correctly interpreted a law that bans the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos for research. The ruling is unlikely to put the issue to rest and one of the judges pleaded for Congress to make clear what the government should and should not be able to do. . . .

See also this story by the Associated Press.

August 24, 2012 in Congress, In the Courts, Religion, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stem-Cell-Based Drug Approved in Canada for Treatment of Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Stem cellThe New York Times: A Stem-Cell-Based Drug Gets Approval in Canada, by Andrew Pollack:

In a boost for the field of regenerative medicine, a small biotechnology company has received regulatory approval in Canada for what it says is the first manufactured drug based on stem cells.

The company, Osiris Therapeutics of Columbia, Md., said Thursday that Canadian regulators had approved its drug Prochymal, to treat children suffering from graft-versus-host disease, a potentially deadly complication of bone marrow transplantation. . . .

May 17, 2012 in Bioethics, International, Medical News, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Komen Foundation's Defunding of Groups Associated with Stem Cell Research Has Largely Flown Under the Radar

Jezebel: Komen Halted Funding for $12 Million in Stem Cell Research Like We Wouldn't Notice, by Erin Gloria Ryan:

Now, that Susan G. Komen for the Cure has sufficiently pissed off progressives, they've changed course and reinstated existing grants to Planned Parenthood, pissing off the anti-abortion crew they'd initially been trying to appease. But before Komen was loudly defunding— and then reinstating funding for— Planned Parenthood, they were stealthily defunding organizations that associate with embryonic stem cell research. And the financial damage from this iteration of their pro-life ideology totals in the millions.

When Komen messed with Planned Parenthood, they messed with an organization with millions of vocal supporters tired of seeing the health care provider being politically stigmatized. But when Komen's newly Karen Handel flavored muscle messed with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the University of Kansas, the US National Cancer Institute, the Society for Women's Health Research, and Yale University, last fall the only people who noticed were the researchers who were no longer receiving the more than $12 million in funding Komen had provided. . . .

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I have received the following correction from a University of Kansas Medical Center official:

The information appearing on some websites is incorrect. Komen did not defund the University of Kansas Medical Center. In 2010 it granted one of our researchers $4.5 million in 2010 to study whether an estrogen found in flax seed might help prevent breast cancer -- that release is here: http://www.komenkansascity.org/about-us/news/multi-million-dollar-komen.html. The researcher, Carol Fabian, MD, has not lost any Komen funding.

February 6, 2012 in Politics, Science, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Gingrich Promises to Ban Embryonic Stem-Cell Research and Examine Ethics of In Vitro Fertilization

The Washington Post - PostPolitics: Gingrich vows to ban embryonic stem-cell research, questions in vitro practice, by Karen Tumulty:

As former House speaker Newt Gingrich courts evangelical voters in advance of Tuesday’s Florida primary, he is drawing an increasingly hard line against the use of embryonic stem-cell research — a position that contrasts not only with that of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, but also with statements that Gingrich himself has made on the subject in the past.

Speaking at a Baptist church in Winter Park on Saturday, the former speaker received a standing ovation when he declared that embryonic stem-cell research amounts to “the use of science to desensitize society over the killing of babies.” . . .

January 30, 2012 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Assisted Reproduction, Fertility, Politics, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Two Scientists Opposed to Embryonic Stem Cell Research Appeal Court Ruling Allowing U.S. Gov't Funding

Stem cell Reuters: U.S. scientists appeal on embryonic stem cell funding:

Two scientists on Monday appealed a ruling that permitted federal funding of human embryonic stem research to go forward, an effort by the U.S. government to try to find cures for deadly diseases.

Dr. James Sherley, a biological engineer at Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher, of Washington-based AVM Biotechnology, opposed such research and had sued to block funding. . . .

September 19, 2011 in In the Courts, Science, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Federal Appeals Court Rules Federally Funded Stem Cell Research May Proceed

Reuters: Court backs federal embryonic stem cells funds, by Jeremy Pelofsky:

An appeals court ruled on Friday the Obama administration can continue using federal money to fund human embryonic stem cell research, a possible avenue toward new treatments for many medical conditions.

The appeals court overturned a ruling by a federal judge who found that the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines on such research violated the law because embryos were destroyed and it put other researchers working with adult stem cells at a disadvantage to win federal grants. . . .

May 2, 2011 in In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Edward Fallone on Funding Stem Cell Research

Edward Fallone (Marquette University Law School) has posted Funding Stem Cell Research: The Convergence of Science, Religion & Politics in the Formation of Public Health Policy on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Mallone The controversy over the funding of stem cell research by the federal government is used as a case study for examining how policy choices are made in the field of public bioethics. This article examines the manner in which the decision to fund stem cell research has been influenced by the convergence of evolving scientific knowledge, conflicting religious values, and the role of elected officials in a representative democracy. The article begins by reviewing the current state of scientific knowledge concerning adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, and the process of direct cell re-programming. Because each of these four areas of regenerative medicine possess advantages and disadvantages as a potential source of medical treatment, it appears that non-scientific considerations explain the decisions of policymakers to favor or disfavor particular types of research. Next, the article surveys the official positions of major religious faiths in the United States in regards to stem cell research, and concludes that there are a variety of differing religious perspectives concerning both the moral status of the embryo and our society’s affirmative obligation to heal the sick. In addition, the article discusses the bifurcated funding landscape for stem cell research, whereby individual states and the federal government both currently provide some measure of research support. Finally, this article concludes by asserting two neutral principles that should guide elected officials in the future when they consider whether to fund medical research in controversial areas: 1) the federal government should be the preferred source of funding for basic medical research and 2) government funding decisions should not favor one religious perspective over another.

February 8, 2011 in Bioethics, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Scholarship and Research, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Congress is "Most Hostile" to Abortion Since Roe v. Wade Was Decided

The Nation: Antichoicers on the March, by Katha Pollitt:

When the 112th Congress convenes in January it will have at least fifty-three additional antichoice Republicans in the House and five in the Senate. Some of the newcomers are particularly extreme: Senator-elect Rand Paul and incoming Representatives Mike Fitzpatrick and Tim Walberg oppose most common methods of birth control, in vitro fertilization and stem cell research, and join Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey in opposing abortion even for rape or incest; Toomey supports jailing doctors who perform abortions. Supporters of reproductive rights are looking at the most hostile Congress since abortion was legalized in 1973. . . .

November 14, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Assisted Reproduction, Congress, Contraception, Politics, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Winning Stem Cell Poem Sparks Controversy

The Huffington Post: Stem Cell Poem Sparks Heated Debate, by John Lundberg:

Stem Cell The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) sponsored a poetry contest to promote Stem Cell Awareness Day last Wednesday, and the seemingly innocuous event kicked up a serious controversy.

One of the winning poems, published on CIRM's website and in a national publication, utilizes the language of the Christian ceremony of communion to make its point. Here's the full text of that poem, entitled "Stem C.," by Tyson Anderson:

This is my body
which is given for you.
But I am not great.
I have neither wealth,
nor fame, nor grace.
I cannot comfort with words,
nor inspire to march.
I am small and simple,
so leave me this.
Let me heal you.
This is my body
which is given for you.
Take this
in remembrance of me.

Anderson's poem doesn't strike me as being deliberately provocative -- its tone is clearly heartfelt. But using the language considered sacred by most opponents of stem cell research in order to promote the research is, well, provocative. . . .

October 19, 2010 in Bioethics, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Embryonic Stem-Cell Treatment on Patient Begins

ABC News: Medical Milestone: Genetics Company Begins First Embryonic Stem-Cell Treatment on Patient, by David Wright & Dan Childs:

Caduceus First Study to Focus on How Patient With Spinal Cord Injuries Will React to Treatment

For years, scientists have held out the promise that embryonic stem cells could repair damaged spinal cords and cure other serious ailments.

Scientists today got one step closer to making that promise a reality as they began an embryonic stem-cell treatment on a patient with spinal cord injuries. It is the first time a medical therapy has been used on a human in a government approved study. . . .

October 11, 2010 in Medical News, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Federal Appeals Court Rules that Stem Cell Funding Can Continue Pending Lawsuit Outcome

Wash. Post: Court lets stem cell funding continue, by Rob Stein:

Stem Cells A federal appeals courts Tuesday ruled that the federal government can continue funding human embryonic stem cell research pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's new policies on the controversial field of science.

The decision stays a temporary injunction issued on Aug. 23 by Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court in Washington. Lamberth said the funding violated the Dickey-Wicker law, which bars federal funding of research that involves the destruction of human embryos.

The Obama administration appealed, and a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Sept. 9 temporarily lifted the injunction pending further consideration. The appeals court on Monday heard arguments about whether to leave the injunction lifted while the case is decided. . . .

October 1, 2010 in In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Federal Judge Denies Obama Adminstration's Request to Stay Stem Cell Ruling

Wall St. Journal: Judge Refuses to Stay Stem-Cell Ruling, by Brent Kendall:

A federal judge refused Tuesday to stay his ruling that blocked the federal government from funding human embryonic stem-cell research.

In a three-page order, U.S. Chief District Court Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington denied the Obama administration's emergency request to stay a preliminary injunction against federal funding while the government appeals the judge's ruling.

Judge Lamberth said issuing a temporary stay of his earlier ruling would flout the will of Congress. . . .

September 7, 2010 in Congress, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Obama Administration Asks Judge to Lift Stem Cell Research Ban While Case Proceeds

Wall St. Journal: Judge Is Asked to Lift Stem-Cell Funds Ban, by Laura Meckler:

Stem Cells The Obama administration asked a federal judge Tuesday to allow the government to continue funding embryonic stem-cell research while a case challenging the program makes its way through the courts.

The judge, Royce Lamberth in Washington, D.C., ordered a temporary halt last week to the funding, saying it violated a federal law that prohibits the use of public funds for research that involves the destruction of human embryos. The Justice Department said the halt would cause irreparable harm to experiments and could negate "years of scientific progress" toward new treatments for a range of diseases. . . . .

September 6, 2010 in In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 30, 2010

In Response to Judge's Ruling, NIH Halts Own Researchers' Embryonic Stem Cell Experiments

The Checkup (Wash. Post blog): NIH shuts down its own stem cell research, by Rob Stein:

Stem cell The National Institutes of Health Monday ordered all of its researchers conducting research on human embryonic stem cells to immediately halt their experiments.

The move came in response to a temporary injunction issued last week by a federal judge barring the federal government from funding research involving human embryonic stem cells. The judge ruled that the research violated a federal law banning the federal government from funding any research involving the destruction of human embryos. . . .

August 30, 2010 in In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Michael Kinsley on the Moral Inconsistency of Stem Cell Research Opponents

AtlanticWire: The Moral Inconsistency of Stem Cell Opponents, by Michael Kinsley:

OK, let’s go through this one more time.

Half of all pregnancies end in miscarriages, usually in the first couple of weeks, before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. A miscarriage destroys an embryo. If you believe that every embryo is the moral equivalent of a fully-formed human being, miscarriages are like a perpetual natural disaster like a flood or an earthquake, and you should be urging a massive effort to reduce miscarriages as the best way to save millions of human lives a year. As far as I know, there is no such effort going on in the United States or elsewhere. . . . 

August 25, 2010 in Anti-Choice Movement, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)