Ethics in Stem Cell Research
Table of Contents
Ethical Issues for Stem Cell Research
It is man’s bounden duty to promote and sustain life, being a co-creator and a co-worker of God. In the performance of such duties, man has, in the name of ground breaking innovations, has impinged on one of the most crucial processes of life, its creation and sustenance. One of the significant innovations today in the field of medical research is the discovery of the potential of the stem cell as possible key to sustaining human life. However, this development brings to conflict two moral principles, as cited by Rickard (2002), where one entails suffering’s prevention or alleviation; and the other, the manifestation of respect for human life’s value. From this point, it appears that the harvesting of stem cells, whether embryonic or adult, is a promising option geared towards sustaining human life; but, what is paradoxical lies with the fact that such an option comes from human life itself, which could either be harmed or destroyed depending on the type of cell the stem cell is being sought for. The deeper question, which many dare to ask, is whether or not it is justified to sustain life by destroying or harming life itself? Ethical Issues for Stem Cell Research
The conflict about the perceived benefits and ethical implications of allowing stem cell research to progress have been debated upon as early as 1999 (Chapman, Frankel & Garfinkel 1999), up to the present. It is true that Stem cell research may revolutionize the treatment of various serious conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and injuries to the spinal cord, coronary diseases, cancer, and even the replacement of damaged tissue, more significantly of vital organs (Abboud, 2002). However, there are significant ethical considerations that hinder the all out implementation of the project.
To determine the salient ethical considerations for this particular innovation, the Kantian deontological framework was utilized as a basis for argument. This form of analogy judges the act, which is stem cell research, independently of the outcomes. However, this process should not be confused with the utilitarian method of equating the right action with what is good; rather, the emphasis would be on acting because of and for the sake of one’s moral duty. The key argument for voting against stem cell research, primarily on the more ‘beneficial’ embryonic stem cell study, is the categorical formula of humanity, as phrased by Immanuel Kant which is: that one should always act with respect towards the humanity of an individual, whether it be for oneself or for another; and, that such actions towards any person should never be as a mere means to an end (“Business Ethics”, 2005). Now that the basis has been clearly defined, the succeeding statements would discuss why embryonic stem cell research should not be advocated, with the following as the most common arguments:
The primary issue arising from stem cell research is the acceptability of using human embryonic tissue, or adult tissue for that matter, as the source of stem cell supply, thereby effectively rendering such embryos disposable for benevolent purposes; in which case, it is denied the chance to finish its term and develop into a potential human being, therefore denying it the right to exist. The regularity of usage of human embryos in stem cell research depreciates its human potential in favor of its immediate purpose as a tissue source (Elliott, 2003), which is clearly in violation of the humanity categorical imperative as formulated by Kant, which is to treat people not as a means to an end.
Proponents of stem cell research argue that an embryo is not the same as human being, hence there is no ethical issue; but contrary to this claim, it is likewise argued that...
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