B. What about medical privacy in a worldof managed care?

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A sense of 'yuk'. And a fear of rampant science unrestrained by ethical concerns. These have becoming over-riding responses of many people to advances in biotechnology. Politicians and policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic have, at best. pandered to such emotions and, at worst, encouraged them. The philosopher Dame Mary Warnock, who chaired the committee that in 1984 drew up early guidelines on embryological research, suggests that policy makers should take gut feelings seriously. For 'morality to exist at all', she argues, 'there must be some things that, regardless of consequences, should not be done' because crossing such barriers generates 'a sense of outrage... a feeling that to permit a practice would be indecent or part of the collapse of civilisation'. When President George Bush last year vetoed legislation that would have provided public funding for stem cell research he warned that there can be no 'crossing the line' that 'would needlessly encourage conflict between science and ethics'.

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“Trafficking is not just something which brings children and adults from other lands to our countries – but it is something which happens on a daily basis to our children and young people here.”

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The Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics () is published by Georgetown University Press twice a year with a distribution of 1400. The is comprised of scholarly papers, book reviews, and advertisements. Currently, the co-editors are Kevin Carnahan and Scott Paeth; the book review editor is Lisa Powell. The grew out of what was The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics. On the basis of the s 21st Century Report, several changes were implemented by Christine E. Gudorf and Paul Lauritzen, who served as co-editors from 2000-2005. These changes included: the expansion from an annual to a journal with two issues per year, the addition of book reviews, the solicitation of advertisements, and the electronic availability of essays in full text form through and .

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'This is revolting and turns my guts. Gawd knows what these barmy scientists are up to and what they have already got lurking in test tubes in the lab'. So wrote one correspondent to the Scotsman in response to a report that three teams of British scientists are seeking to create 'hybrid' embryos for medical research. The scientists want to transfer a human cell nucleus into an animal egg from which the nucleus has been removed. The resulting embryo would then be harvested for stem cells, to aid research into possible cures for conditions such as Alzheimers' and motor neurone disease. Scientists are keen to implant the human nucleus into an animal egg because human eggs are in short supply.

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The hybrid cells would, as scientists point out, be 99.9 per cent human and 0.1 per cent cow or rabbit. But the very thought of such cells created fantastic visions of half-man, half-rabbit monsters - and not just among correspondents to the Scotsman. ‘There is a lot of innate wisdom in the yuk factor’, observed Josephine Quintavalle of the lobby group Comment on Reproductive Ethics. ‘My question is: what will the scientists actually create?’ The government seems to feel the same. It is committed to banning the creation of hybrid embryos (though it has not yet got round to drawing up the legislation) and has called on funding bodies 'to make clear that they will not fund or support research involving the creation of such hybrids'. In January the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) - the body that regulates embryological research in this country - postponed until autumn any decision on whether to license the procedure.

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Many people recognise the medical benefits that biotechnologies may bring. But many also fear that such benefits may be purchased at too great a price. The image we have is of an unending conflict between an amoral science, hellbent on progress at any cost, and those who seek to restrain scientific advancement and place it within a moral framework. How can we defend the dignity of human beings from being eroded by techniques such as cloning? Is it possible to stop science treating human beings as mere objects? Questions such as these betray a deep anxiety not only about the very character of scientific research and also about the ways in which biotechnologies appear to throw up new ethical questions and problems that threaten to overwhelm us.