Bioethics – Embryonic StemCell Research & CloningProceduressuch as Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR) and Cloning are known to beextremely controversial as they involve the use of the human embryo. This meansthat any experimental failure would result in the destruction of the embryo,which is a huge moral dilemma as many see this as a loss of life equivalent tothat of murder and thus, unacceptable. Generally, these procedures are caught betweentwo conflicting ideas – the duty of scientists to alleviate suffering ofmankind and the duty of humans to value human life.
Experimentalfailures aside, for research toprogress, it is inevitable that embryonic stem cells are involved. Unfortunately,the only way for embryonic stem cells to be harvested is through the collectionof the embryo at an early stage, which is later destroyed to release its stemcells. By destroying an embryo that has potential to develop into a human, itis akin to murder. Particularly in the procedure of therapeutic cloning, thecloned embryo is created solely for destruction. Adding on to that, the chancesof creating a cloned embryo is nowhere near high as the technology of cloninghas yet to be perfected. These two factors combined mean that the number ofembryos destroyed is multiplied.
On theother hand, embryonic stem cell research and cloning are procedures that are filled with potentialin reducing human suffering, that is, assuming they were to be perfected. Thisis where the crucial question comes in – Should the undeveloped embryo assumethe rights of a human? When then, is the embryo considered “human”?While some see the destruction of the young embryo equivalent to killing achild, others feel that the embryo is merely a mass of cells at this earlystage, and is not actually a child yet since it has yet to show any signs ofdevelopment into a human. Until the blastula attaches to the uterus of themother, will there be a possibility of it growing into a child and thus, onlyat this stage should the embryo be considered human and assume the rights ofone. Each year,fertility clinics destroy the many embryos that are made in surplus.
Supportersof ESCR would then feel that such actions are a wastage of resources, as thissurplus could contribute to the research progress. Moreover, since they aresurplus, it would be more efficient and useful to put them into use, ratherthan simply letting them be destroyed without maximizing its purposes. If thissurplus would use, it would contribute to improving the lives of man instead. Conversely,the religious such as the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and conservative ProtestantChurches feel that as long as the ovum has been fertilized, the embryo, even ifat an early stage, is still considered human. Other religions like Judaism andIslam allow some room for debate, emphasizing the importance of helping othersand arguing that the embryo is only entitled to full human rights and statusafter 40 days.
ConclusionAs thedebate about bioethics continues heatedly, it helps government bodies ofdifferent countries decide for the state what is important, what arguments arevalid, and thus establish legislation accordingly with regards to the progressof ESCR and cloning procedures. In the end,there will always be conflicting interests, but as long as the conflictremains, there will never be any true progress. We have to understand that everyoneis passionate about something and everyone’s opinions are valid and should berespected. However, for society to progress into the future, there has to besome form of balance and compromise when deciding what is “best” forsociety.