Stemming the Tide of Normalisation: An Expanded Feminist Analysis of the Ethics and Social Impact of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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Abstract

Feminists have indicated the inadequacies of bioethical debates about human embryonic stem cell research, which have for the most part revolved around concerns about the moral status of the human embryo. Feminists have argued, for instance, that inquiry concerning the ethics and politics of human embryonic stem cell research should consider the relations of social power in which the research is embedded. My argument is that this feminist work on stem cells is itself inadequate, however, insofar as it has not incorporated an analysis of disability into its considerations of the ethical and political issues that surround the phenomena. Thus, I consider claims that disability theorists and anti-disability activists have made about the research. I conclude by indicating that stem cell research must be situated within a cultural matrix that operates in the service of normalisation.

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