Thursday, February 21, 2008

Moral Futility

China is enticing expatriate Chinese stem-cell researchers to go back by setting them up with cash, homes, cars and lab space. Sweet deal. It turns out that the government there isn't conflicted (at least publicly) over stem-cell research. Although it's interesting, but not at all surprising, that they don't allow them to be used for reproductive purposes. One wonders if the Chinese won't eventually start recruiting non-Chinese researchers to go over and work.

This is going to be hard on the pro-life movement here. They can keep such research from being labeled as ethical enough to go ahead, but only here in the United States, and possibly only at the Federal level. If the Chinese make any therapeutic breakthroughs, you can be sure that Americans will want access to the new treatments - and given the fact that people are already showing a willingness to travel to India for cheaper medicine there, they're unlikely to stay on this side of the ocean if new life-saving measures can be had at the end of a flight to Hong Kong. American bio-tech firms that don't partner up with China risk being shut out - those that do seem likely to run the risk of being censured by China's critics in Congress. In the end, I suspect the money will win out.

But all of this brings up an interesting point. Of how much worth is a unilateral moral stand, when in the presence of people who are perfectly willing to go ahead regardless? Is personal blamelessness, in and of itself, worth aspiring to?

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