While we’re all waiting for the announcement that Shinya Yamanaka’s lab has or has not published on human embryonic-like stem cells dedifferentiated from adult stem cells . . . (The press releases hit while I was writing this post.)
Wesley Smith’s blog, Secondhand Smoke has a good discussion titled, ” Just Because Someone Wants Something, Does That Mean Doctors Should Do It?,” that goes along with the conscience and limits on science debates that seems to be the theme of this blog over the last couple of weeks.
The limits should probably be based on the individuals’ right to life and liberty as in, “Is it permissible for a person to infringe on his own rights?” and “Does the desired event risk life and liberty of others?” These themes are what I consider the basis for “First, do no harm.”
There are questions that need to be asked.
1. Nothing should be allowed that is designed to intentionally kill a human being. (The Nuremberg Code says “except, perhaps, in those experiments where the experimental physicians also serve as subjects,” but I don’t believe that even doctors are allowed to infringe our own right to life and liberty.)
2. Will society be asked act to make special accommodations for the the intentionally mutilated (or the obese, the smoker, the Jehovah’s Witness or vaccine denier, etc.)? (How much of my life, liberty and property do you claim?)
3. Will the rights of certain individuals be infringed upon by a demand for an action from someone else that is repugnant to the one being forced to act? (Traditional ethics that society may restrain, but not compel, action except in limited situations such as parents’ duty to their children, doctors’ and lawyers’ duties to their patients and clients. )