This is where discussion is important. Debates and discussions about the moral and ethical status of ESCs help establish the rules and regulations that govern scientific research and the development of medical treatments using stem cells.
Embryonic stem cell research poses a moral dilemma. It forces us to choose between two moral principles:. In the case of embryonic stem cell research, it is impossible to respect both moral principles. To obtain embryonic stem cells, the early embryo has to be destroyed. This means destroying a potential human life. But embryonic stem cell research could lead to the discovery of new medical treatments that would alleviate the suffering of many people.
So which moral principle should have the upper hand in this situation? The answer hinges on how we view the embryo. Does it have the status of a person? Chapter 1 of this film introduces some of the key ethical arguments. The moral status of the embryo is a controversial and complex issue. The main viewpoints are outlined below. The embryo has full moral status from fertilization onwards Either the embryo is viewed as a person whilst it is still an embryo, or it is seen as a potential person.
Development from a fertilized egg into to baby is a continuous process and any attempt to pinpoint when personhood begins is arbitrary. A human embryo is a human being in the embryonic stage, just as an infant is a human being in the infant stage. Although an embryo does not currently have the characteristics of a person, it will become a person and should be given the respect and dignity of a person.
An early embryo that has not yet been implanted into the uterus does not have the psychological, emotional or physical properties that we associate with being a person. It therefore does not have any interests to be protected and we can use it for the benefit of patients who ARE persons. It needs external help to develop. Even then, the probability that embryos used for in vitro fertilization will develop into full-term successful births is low.
Something that could potentially become a person should not be treated as if it actually were a person. A candidate for president is a potential president, but he or she does not have the rights of a president and should not be treated as a president. 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:.
The embryo has increasing status as it develops An embryo deserves some protection from the moment the sperm fertilizes the egg, and its moral status increases as it becomes more human-like. Implantation of the embryo into the uterus wall around six days after fertilization.
Appearance of the primitive streak — the beginnings of the nervous system — at around 14 days. The phase when the baby could survive if born prematurely. If a life is lost, we tend to feel differently about it depending on the stage of the lost life. A fertilized egg before implantation in the uterus could be granted a lesser degree of respect than a human fetus or a born baby. More than half of all fertilized eggs are lost due to natural causes.
If the natural process involves such loss, then using some embryos in stem cell research should not worry us either. Whatever moral status the human embryo has for us, the life that it lives has a value to the embryo itself. If we judge the moral status of the embryo from its age, then we are making arbitrary decisions about who is human. For example, even if we say formation of the nervous system marks the start of personhood, we still would not say a patient who has lost nerve cells in a stroke has become less human.
But there is a difference between losing some nerve cells and losing the complete nervous system - or never having had a nervous system. If we are not sure whether a fertilized egg should be considered a human being, then we should not destroy it. 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. 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. In fact, there are conservatives — traditional social conservatives, such as Republican Sen.
Orrin Hatch of Utah — who support embryonic stem cell research. But could you explain how the Judeo-Christian and Western moral ethic informs your views on this issue and why you think that God is ultimately on your side?
My approach to this is not religious. That being said, those foundations are not utterly secular, and my understanding of them is not utterly secular.
I think that to believe in human equality you do have to have some sense of a transcendent standard by which to make that judgment. In other words, when we talk about equality, what do we mean? Equal in relation to what?
Some people have certainly tried to make a purely secular liberal argument for human equality. I think that this is really about whether we believe in a liberal society, which comes from a belief in human equality. Why do you think this has happened, and what do you think this trend indicates? When you put the question in medical terms, you find, I think, somewhat larger majorities supporting it.
In our poll, we asked the same people a series of questions that basically put the same issue in several different ways, and their responses are total opposites of one another. To my mind, the aim of people such as myself has always been to find ways of doing the science without violating the ethics rather than to force a choice between the science and the ethics.
It certainly has been done in some instances when the principle was more evident and more obvious — such as imposing limits on human subject research. Again, the aim from my point of view — and from a lot of people on my side of this argument — has been to find ways to advance the science without violating the ethics.
That would begin to break up the practice of medicine and to affect our attitudes about science — which on the whole has done a tremendous amount of good for society.
Mar 15, · Researchers in the UK are now allowed to use early stage human embryos for therapeutic purposes, mainly to retrieve stem cells. This decision comes amidst a heated debate regarding the medical and economic potential of stem cell research as against its ethical pitfalls.
Critics against stem cell research argued that the ethical issues of scientific work on aborted fetuses did not justify the possible benefits. "A life is a life and that should never be compromised. A fertilized egg should be valued as a human life even if it is in its very first weeks.
The final arguments against stem cell research deal with the actual cost of such treatments is simply too high to be implemented on a large scale. Stem cell research pros and cons have gained a lot of attention lately due to President Obama lifting a ban on stem cell research. 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.
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. Define: Stem Cell Research a stem cell is a “generic” cell that can make exact copies of itself indefinitely.