Preparing the Groundwork for a Responsible Debate on Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning

10 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2006


The debate over both cloning and stem cell research has been intense and polarizing. It played a significant role in the recently completed presidential campaign, mentioned by both candidates on the stump, at both parties' conventions, and was even taken up directly during one of the presidential debates. The topic has been discussed and debated almost continuously by the members of the legal, scientific, medical, and public policy commentariat. I believe that it is a heartening tribute to our national polity that such a complex moral, ethical, and scientific issue has become a central focus of our political discourse. But, as you have no doubt noticed, the content of the discourse itself has been sometimes quite impoverished and unsatisfying. No one camp in this debate is solely to blame for these difficulties - partisans on all sides bear some measure of responsibility for the current state of the public discourse. In the interests of improving the quality of public deliberation and discussion on this matter, I will provide a few modest suggestions for how the public debate might be improved. I begin with a few general observations applicable to both domains under consideration today, stem cell research and cloning. Then I focus on each separately; first, directing my comments to stem cell research, and then turning to the distinct (though obviously closely related) matter of cloning.

Keywords: stem cell, zygote, embryo, blastocyst, morula, fetus, cloning, somatic cell nuclear transfer, personhood, regulation, federal funding, federalism, pluralism, pluripotent, totipotent, multipotent, research, Bush, Kerry, bioethics, medical ethics, biotechnology, medicine, science, biology

JEL Classification: K1, K10, K19, K3, K30, K32, K39, K4, K40, K49

Suggested Citation

Snead, O. Carter, Preparing the Groundwork for a Responsible Debate on Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning. New England Law Review, Vol. 39, No. 701, pp. 479-488, 2005. Available at SSRN:

O. Carter Snead (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States
574-631-8259 (Phone)


Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics