?It?s how we describe the thing that almost makes more of a difference than what it is.? These words, from linkurl:Patricia Alt;http://wwwnew.towson.edu/healthscience/alt.html of Towson University in Maryland, are particularly applicable to hot button issues in bioethics, particularly the ever-raging debate over using embryos for stem cell research. At linkurl:this week?s;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/23946/ conference on linkurl:Bioethics & Politics,;http://politics.bioethics.net/ hosted by the Albany Medical College, Alt presented a situation when language made all the difference to opinions about stem cell research. In 2005, Maryland legislators became frustrated after repeated attempts to pass a bill protecting stem cell research in both the House and the Senate. And for a state that?s home to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, protecting this research is important. So they tweaked the language -- most notably, bill-writers changed the words ?human embryo? to ?certain material? or ?unused material,? then linked to information stating that healthcare practitioners will explain all the...
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