March 5, 2024

Czech Republic and Roma

Sometimes, as a journalist, I feel like Winnie-the-Pooh, ” a Bear of Very Little Brain”, when sifting through bioethics articles, which are normally very long, very complicated, and very subtle.

Even short articles can have the same baffling effect – one knows that something is wrong, but what?

As Pooh says, “when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

Take, for instance, a very short letter to Nature from three distinguished members of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), including Robin Lovell-Badge, one of the more illustrious members of the stem cell fraternity.

They argue that there is a human right, guaranteed by United Nations covenants, for humanity to benefit from science – and therefore the 14-day limit on embryo research should be abolished because it will deliver a plethora of benefits.

To my Pooh-like brain, this sounds odd. How is there a right to something that does not exist? Could not a snake-oil salesman make the same plea? If anyone has ideas on this score, please let me know.

Michael Cook
Compensation for sterilizations