Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Stem Cells (Blog Post #3)

Ethical issues concerning stem cells. (Blog post #3)

Of course, as with any new development of scientific research, there are ethical issues that surround stem cell research. The main ethical debate revolves around the use of embryos as a source of stem cells. In order to obtain embryonic stem cells, the early embryo must be destroyed. This raises the issue of destroying a potential human life, much the same as the issue regarding abortion. Therefore, one must choose between two main moral principles: the duty to prevent or alleviate suffering, or the duty to respect the value of human life. Is it more important to use embryonic stem cells as a method to help alleviate the sufferings of people with diseases? Or is the destroying of a potential human life not worth the possible benefits? In order to have this debate, however, the issue of what we consider to be a human being must be addressed. Does an embryo have the status of a person?

The two arguments are as follows:

One side states that an embryo has full moral status as soon as fertilization occurs. Since human development is a continuous process, the exact moment of when an embryo should be considered a person is arbitrary and cannot be pinpointed. A human embryo is a human being in the embryo stage, just as a human infant is a human being in the infant stage. Even if the embryo does not currently possess all characteristics of a human, it will become a person and should therefore be given the full dignity of a person.

The other side argues that an early embryo that has not been implanted into the uterus does not have any of the physical, emotional, or psychological properties that are associated to what makes a person a person. Therefore, we should not ignore the potential of using these embryos as a way to benefit patients, who are persons. Something that could potentially become a person should not be treated as a person.

Thus, the issue of using embryonic stem cells to help treat diseases is a widely discussed and ethically fueled debate. As technology and research continues to develop, more and more ethical and moral dilemmas are bound to be created, and the fine line between science and morality will continue to blur.

Links for this discussion:

EuroStemCell Foundatio
Family Research Council


  1. I really like the last 3 paragraphs because it perfectly sums what I could never articulate

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  3. "When in doubt, err on the side of actual and extant personhood" seems like a reasonable working principle.