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Stem Cell Research

A Learning Aid for UK Medical Students

❶These embryos are not mourned, they are not given burial and no one says prayers for them. It is difficult not to regard this as a worthy end, and more difficult to see that there could be any moral objection to curing the sick, as demanded by the Hippocratic oath.

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Stem cell research would deviate efforts from other health strategies
The ‘potentiality’ problem
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I know that you believe that human embryos have intrinsic worth. Do you believe that they have the same intrinsic worth as a five-year-old child or a year-old man? The question of intrinsic worth is complicated. The question of when life begins is a biological question, and the answer actually is fairly straightforward: The life of an organism begins at conception. I think that the embryonic stem cell debate is ultimately about the question of human equality.

What it means is that our common humanity is something that we all share. The protection of human life comes first. And to the extent that the debate is about whether it is acceptable to destroy a living human being for the purpose of science — even for the purpose of helping other human beings — I think that in that sense, the embryo is our equal. So in other words, even though you would grieve the death of a year-old man more than a five-day-old embryo, on at least the most basic level you believe that they both have the same right to life.

And right to life derives from human equality. The right to life is, in a way, drawn out of the political vocabulary of the Declaration of Independence. And so, to my mind, the argument at the heart of the embryonic stem cell debate is the argument about human equality. Recently in The New Republic magazine, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker wrote that conservative bioethicists like yourself consistently predict the worst when looking at developments in biotechnology.

From the beginning of the scientific revolution, science and technology have tried to allow us to manipulate and shape the world around us for the benefit of man. For the benefit of what? But there are newer scientific developments, such as certain types of human enhancement technologies that raise very complicated questions of how we should judge the ends and the means of technological advancements.

That being said, Pinker has a point, in a larger sense — that judging the risks of new technologies is very difficult. In general, I think we ought to give the benefit of the doubt to our ability to use new technologies. But there are specific instances, which are few but very important, when we do need to be cautious.

Obviously there are people of faith on both sides of this debate. But other critics of stem cell research support research on aborted fetuses, since those fetuses are already dead, yet oppose the destruction of embryos, because they consider the embryos to be alive — or at least have the potential to become a human being.

Some groups that do not oppose abortion are uneasy about the prospect of studying tissues derived from aborted fetuses or discarded embryos. For example, the United Methodist church supports abortions rights, but opposes the research industry's demand for embryos.

Many ethicists and scientists also oppose embryonic research. In a July statement, bioethicists, scientists and legal scholars said they objected to embryonic stem cell research on the grounds that such research is both unethical and unnecessary.

Some of these critics argue that recent research showing that adult stem cells may be more versatile than previously thought, say scientists may soon be able to derive stem cells from adults. Those who are opposed to this research also believe that their tax dollars should not go to supporting the research regardless of whether or not the research is permitted.

Most critics of the embryo research ban contend that week-old blastocysts are not human beings, and that destroying those embryos does not constitute killing. At one week, embryos are merely a cluster of cells and not deserving of the protections afforded to others, they say. When conceived naturally, a blastocyst has not been implanted in the uterus by that time.

A hunter does not shoot if he is not sure whether his target is a deer or a man. The embryo has no moral status at all An embryo is organic material with a status no different from other body parts. If we destroy a blastocyst before implantation into the uterus we do not harm it because it has no beliefs, desires, expectations, aims or purposes to be harmed.

By taking embryonic stem cells out of an early embryo, we prevent the embryo from developing in its normal way. This means it is prevented from becoming what it was programmed to become — a human being. Different religions view the status of the early human embryo in different ways. For example, the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and conservative Protestant Churches believe the embryo has the status of a human from conception and no embryo research should be permitted.

Judaism and Islam emphasize the importance of helping others and argue that the embryo does not have full human status before 40 days, so both these religions permit some research on embryos. Other religions take other positions. EuroStemCell factsheet on ethical issues relating to the sources of embyronic stem cells. EuroStemCell factsheet on the science of embryonic stem cells.

This factsheet was created by Kristina Hug. Images courtesy of Wellcome Images: Embryonic stem cell research: What are the issues being discussed? What is the rationale for different opinions? Some people see destroying a blastula for its cells as destroying an unborn child. Where does the middle ground lie?

The ethical dilemma What moral status does the human embryo have? Embryonic stem cell research and religion Find out more Acknowledgements and references. It forces us to choose between two moral principles: The duty to prevent or alleviate suffering The duty to respect the value of human life In the case of embryonic stem cell research, it is impossible to respect both moral principles.

Arguments for this view Arguments against this view Development from a fertilized egg into to baby is a continuous process and any attempt to pinpoint when personhood begins is arbitrary. There is a cut-off point at 14 days after fertilization Some people argue that a human embryo deserves special protection from around day 14 after fertilization because: After 14 days the embryo can no longer split to form twins.

Before this point, the embryo could still be split to become two or more babies, or it might fail to develop at all. Before day 14, the embryo has no central nervous system and therefore no senses.

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Aug 09,  · The Case Against Stem Cell Research Opponents of research on embryonic cells, including many religious and anti-abortion groups, contend that embryos are human beings with the same rights — and thus entitled to the same protections against abuse — as anyone else.

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Mar 15,  · This decision comes amidst a heated debate regarding the medical and economic potential of stem cell research as against its ethical pitfalls. The scientific, legal, ethical and philosophical arguments have been discussed extensively (Mieth, ; Colman and Burley, ).

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A lot of people don’t realize there are other truerload6ah.gqnic stem cell research, unlike the others, in order to utilize a stem cell derived from a human embryo, it requires the destruction of that embryo – the destruction of life. Sep 05,  · The Pew Forum and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press have done polling on this issue over the last six or seven years and have found that Americans generally favor embryonic stem cell research.

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What are the arguments against stem cell research? Stem Cell Research I strongly oppose human cloning, as do most Americans. We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for spare body parts, or creating life for our convenience. Pros and Cons of Stem Cell Research. These new developments could help win stem cell research more support from those against embryonic stem cell research since they don't require the destruction of blastocysts. The use of embryonic stem cells for research involves the destruction of blastocysts formed from laboratory-fertilized human.