Embryos and Ethics

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Michell Henning
Research Paper
Period 2
M.Kelsay
12/18/2012

Embryos and Ethics

Embryotic stem cell research has been in the public eye for quite some time, and has formed an ethical debate between many. Scientists have been researching and testing embryos to determine the possible uses for them. The work done with embryos can allow parents to select certain characteristics for their future child. Frozen embryos can be used later on for in-vitro fertilization, allowing a couple to conceive a child. Scientists can nurture the embryos and thus use them for testing. Human embryo stem cells also can be used to treat and prevent diseases (Keller 1). The incredible accomplishments with embryos have fueled debates whether the testing on fragile embryos is ethically and morally stable. Where is the line drawn for working with embryos? The ethical concern pertaining to the embryo research is becoming acceptable in today’s society. The controversial topic over embryos has slowly become an existing issue. Working with embryos first sparked an ethical concern in 1994, when word got around that human embryo cells were being extracted and then explored on (Banchoff 180). Two fundamental moral principles that we as humans highly value are debated throughout the embryo research; the duty to prevent or alleviate suffering and the rightful duty to respect the value of human life (Schneider 830). This creates the question about what the moral status of a human embryo is. The pre-implantation stage of the embryo does not have emotional, intellectual, and physiological properties. It has no identity therefor it has the genetic ability to fulfill its duties in a human body that it needs to. Ron Mckay, a stem cell researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says, “The control of human stem cells may open the door to the greatest discovery since antibiotics (Torr 134). Research and manipulation of embryos first originated in the 1940’s. The first occurrence of human in-vitro fertilization was in 1944. More news developed in the 1960’s. The first ever confirmed case where success of fertilizing a human egg was at a lab in Cambridge in 1968. After the confirmation, “embryo politics” emerged. Scientific associations, patient advocacy organizations, and the Catholic Church were among the many that had ethical reasons concerning the research of embryos. Stories pertaining to the embryos were low key, because according to Lemonae, Robert Edward’s breakthrough was “still too early to see anything in this experiment beyond interesting technological powers now only interests to scientists” (Banchoff 183). In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled that the fetus was not a person. This not only initiated the freedom of abortion, but more legal ability to continue intense research on the embryos. In 1974, Congress demanded that ethical and public policy guidelines for the fetal research come to an agreement. Finally, in 1975 liberalists and conservatives compromised an agreement based on both of their views. They agreed on embryo research to be acceptable for the development of vaccinations and cures. Yet, it strongly restricted human fetal research where research risks were too high (Holland 17). From beginning of scientists’ work on human embryos ethical debates have been trending for some time. The average person does not fully understand the medical capabilities of the precious embryo. Embryos can be designed to become different organ cells, be used to treat different diseases, used to create a child, and select certain human features. Just like the slow birth of embryonic stem cell research, the percentage of people that are on agreeable ethical terms with the research has slowly increased as well. In a cohort study performed in 2009 by the University of Nevada questioned U.S. citizens what their attitudes toward human embryonic stem cell research was. More than two-thirds of the study’s respondents approved of the...
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