Crichton and Shapir: Gene Patenting and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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Kristi Ellis
Mrs. Scheidt
English 1301.174
11 October 2012

Paper #2 – The Bioethics Debate
In “Patenting Life,” by Michael Crichton, and “Bioethics and the Stem Cell Research Debate,” by Robyn S. Shapiro, they discuss gene patenting, medicine, stem cell research, and the laws of bioethics. According to Crichton and Shapiro, humans are all born with genes, stem cells, and organs that are part of our natural world, yet when the law tries to put limits on these rights it becomes unethical. Crichton and Shapiro both agree about the controversial issues surrounding science and medicine. They both point out the unethical issues, the innovation in medicine, and the impact on science and medicine in relation to the law.

In both essays Crichton and Shapiro list many immoralities that arise out of bioethical issues. For instance, Crichton refers to an example of the Canavan disease in which the process to find a cure was halted due to gene patenting. It was a prime example of an issue that was unethical because the owner of the gene for the disease could choose whether or not to charge for a test and choose how much to charge for it, which blocks medical innovations. Crichton states, “There is no clearer indication that gene patents block innovation, inhibit research and put us all at risk” (432). Crichton goes on to say that genes are part of humans naturally and should not be privately owned (431). In comparison, Shapiro explains although embryonic stem cells give promise to the medical field, many ethical issues surround it such as the destruction of the embryo. Shapiro also writes that those who denounce embryonic stem cell research believe the embryo is already a human being with rights from conception, while others believe that human rights do not exist prior to birth (435).

Additionally, medical advancement is critical for innovation in both essays. Crichton states that gene patenting prevents medical testing and slows medical advancement. Not only...
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