Introduction
NETWORKING LIMINALITY
When claims about the epistemologically neutral
status of nature and its rigorous separation from society
are challenged by the existence of . . . ambiguous,
technologically created entities—neither alive nor dead,
both dead and alive—moralizing runs wild.
—Margaret Lock, Twice Dead
In March 2001, an adoption agency in California sued the United
States federal government to prevent federal funding of research on
embryonic stem cells. That agency, Nightlight Christian Adoptions,
makes arrangements for infertile couples to ‘‘adopt’’ excess embryos
left over from other couples’ fertility treatments. As an Internet news
service reported:
[Nightlight Christian Adoptions] opposes National Institutes of Health
plans to fund research using certain embryonic cells—arguing such re-
search would cut the number of adoptable embryos and thus financially
harm Nightlight and prospective parents.
At issue are stem cells, the building blocks for all human tissue. Scien-
tists say research with them could lead to revolutionary therapies for
diseases from Alzheimer’s to diabetes. They can be derived from aborted
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