Jane Maienschein - Whose View of Life?

from the publisher:
Saving lives versus taking lives: These are the stark terms in which the public regards human embryo research--a battleground of extremes, a war between science and ethics. Such a simplistic dichotomy, encouraged by vociferous opponents of abortion and proponents of medical research, is precisely what Jane Maienschein seeks to counter with this book. Whose View of Life? brings the current debates into sharper focus by examining developments in stem cell research, cloning, and embryology in historical and philosophical context and by exploring legal, social, and ethical issues at the heart of what has become a political controversy.

Drawing on her experience as a researcher, teacher, and congressional fellow, Jane Maienschein provides historical and contemporary analysis to aid understanding of the scientific and social forces that got us where we are today. For example, she explains the long-established traditions behind conflicting views of how life begins--at conception or gradually, in the course of development. She prepares us to engage a major question of our day: How are we, as a 21st-century democratic society, to navigate a course that is at the same time respectful of the range of competing views of life, built on the strongest possible basis of scientific knowledge, and still able to respond to the momentous opportunities and challenges presented to us by modern biology? Maienschein's multidisciplinary perspective will provide a starting point for further attempts to answer this question.

This is a wonderfully timely, sensible, and clear-headed look at the one of the most controversial issues in biomedicine today. It is just the book we would hope for from a distinguished historian of biology and medicine. Most people who have been following the story of cloning and stem cells for the last half dozen years or so--say since Dolly--have a grazing, close-up view. Whose View of Life? provides the panoramic perspective that we sorely need. How lucky we are to have Jane Maienschein to widen our horizons. --Jonathan Weiner, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Beak of the Finch

Jane Maienschein has produced an invaluable book. She invites the reader to consider the question of how 'a life' has been defined from diverse viewpoints. Her rich experience as a scholar, teacher and legislative advisor makes her account essential reading for anyone interested in the social consequences of modern biology and biotechnology. --Garland Allen, Professor of Biology, Washington University in St. Louis