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. 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.
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.
So I think what everybody should aim for is finding a way to end this potentially very damaging debate rather than force a choice. About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions.
It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. This transcript has been edited for clarity, spelling and grammar.
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.
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.
A lot of people don’t realize there are other bisnesila.tknic 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. 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.
On the other hand, a lot of people defend their arguments against stem cell research and believe it’s highly unethical and even murderous to destroy a human embryo for a faint possibility of finding a cure or helping someone in need. Sep 05, · The Case Against Embryonic Stem Cell Research: An Interview with Yuval Levin Scientists largely agree that stem cells may hold a key to the treatment, and even cure, of many serious medical conditions.