Academically, the natural progression from an LL.M. leads to an S.J.D.—if that is available, and if one is interested in devoting the time and effort required; but I first shunned the option. Six months later, however, the debate concerning human embryonic stemcell research (hESCR) came to my attention. Although general stem cell research (SCR) had been going on for several decades using animals, and therefore never drawing much public scrutiny, it was not until 1998 that human embryonic stem cells (hESC’s) were isolated from human embryos. This was a significant breakthrough; however, the downside was that the process necessarily destroyed the embryo.
The destruction of the embryo is the primary cause of the current debate, which is typified by philosophical, moral and ethical, religious, economic, and legal issues. An inspection of these issues touched my particular fancy not only for the challenges they presented, but also because they involved interests that yet indulge my mind occasionally, such as law, science, philosophy, and science fiction. I considered this potpourri of issues a worthy scholastic engagement, and therefore, I hastened to consummate the perfect union of scholarship and commitment.
From the viewpoint of a theologian, a moralist, or an ethicist, the crux of the debate concerns the permissibility of hESCR, and if permitted, how should it be regulated? A few scientists will side with the aforementioned individuals; however, many are more likely concerned with the technical aspects involved. Irrespective of background, profession, or moral system, emotional attachment to some concern or another has been the debate’s primary feature; such concerns include allowing the research in the name of scientific or medical advancement, or prohibiting it on account of general moral and ethical concerns. Numerous questions, many of them interrelated, are being exhaustively examined and, thus far, without any solutions having universal appeal. For the legislator, and those who interpret and enforce the law, with respect to legality at least, the questions narrow to the following: (1) what is the law? (2) If there is no law, what should any legislated law be? Though new law addressing hESCR is proposed and legislated almost daily across the globe, it is yet my humble intention to submit my own proposals suggesting what the law should be.