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Ethical Theories Of Embryonic Stem Cells

2084 words - 8 pages

Researching the future potential of embryonic stem cells is the new hot topic debate in ethics. The moral objections from two opposing sides clash in a political and ethical battle of who is correct. Each faction tries to define the classification of what deserves unalienable human rights. Likewise, determining what is classified as human behavior such as sentiment, interests and pain has been the ground on which pro-stem cell research stand. Since these embryos share only genetic similarities and no human characteristics, it is permissible to this stance to kill them in the name of medicine. On the other hand, anti-embryonic stem cell research believes that the human life begins at conception. Consequently, the status of the embryo is considered human and should deserve respect and rights the same as a human. In this term paper, two differing argumentative articles will be analyzed for ethical theories.
The reason researches in the biomedical field want to harvest and test stem cells are because of their unknown capabilities to perhaps cure Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease and spinal cord injuries. Research has been slowed by differing opinions on the definition of the status of the embryo as morally or genetically human. Richard M. Doerflinger calls this difference of opinion a “confrontation between religion and science” (Doerflinger, 2010).Stem cell research is focused on embryos that are donated by couples who have created embryos through in-vitro fertilization (Steinbock, 2007). The question researchers, funders, politicians and citizens are asking is when does the human life begin? Furthermore, ethicists are looking to determine what makes something human the rights that it deserves.
One peer reviewed article that supports stem cell research is “The science, policy, and ethics of stem cell research.” Written by Bonnie Steinbock, she states three different approaches to the moral status of the embryo. The authors opinion is plainly seen in the first paragraph, “I argue for a compromise position that accords respect to the embryo as a form of human life, but which is distinct from Kantian respect for persons,” (Steinbock, 2007). The first view is that embryos should receive the protection and rights that all human beings have because they are genetically human. Steinbock counters this statement with the definition of a human organism, “an organism is defined as an integrated while with the capacity for self-directed development,” (Steinbock, 2007). This classification of what a human organism is demotes the human embryo as not human because the embryo has no heart, no brain and no organs. In other words, it has no similar traits as a human adult. It has the capabilities to become a baby, but will it ever become one? Another view, as described by Steinbock, is that embryos have no moral status. Embryos have the same genetic makeup as humans, but they don’t act or exhibit any human characteristics. Steinbock states,...

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