why do people support stem cell research

Embryonic stem cell research poses a moral dilemma. It forces us to choose between two moral principles:
In the case of embryonic stem cell research, it is impossible to respect both moral principles. To obtain embryonic stem cells, the early embryo has to be destroyed. This means destroying a potential human life. But embryonic stem cell research could lead to the discovery of new medical treatments that would alleviate the suffering of many people. So which moral principle should have the upper hand in this situation? The answer hinges on how we view the embryo. Does it have the status of a person? What moral status does the human embryo have?


The moral status of the embryo is a controversial and complex issue. The main viewpoints are outlined below. 1. The embryo has full moral status from fertilization onwards Either the embryo is viewed as a person whilst it is still an embryo, or it is seen as a potential person. The criteria for вpersonhoodв are notoriously unclear; different people define what makes a person in different ways. 2. There is a cut-off point at 14 days after fertilization After 14 days the embryo can no longer split to form twins. Before this point, the embryo could still be split to become two or more babies, or it might fail to develop at all.


Before day 14, the embryo has no central nervous system and therefore no senses. If we can take organs from patients who have been declared brain dead and use them for transplants, then we can also use hundred-cell embryos that have no nervous system. Fertilization is itself a process, not a вmomentв. An embryo in the earliest stages is not clearly defined as an individual. 3. The embryo has increasing status as it develops An embryo deserves some protection from the moment the sperm fertilizes the egg, and its moral status increases as it becomes more human-like. 4. The embryo has no moral status at all An embryo is organic material with a status no different from other body parts.


Different religions view the status of the early human embryo in different ways. For example, the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and conservative Protestant Churches believe the embryo has the status of a human from conception and no embryo research should be permitted. Judaism and Islam emphasize the importance of helping others and argue that the embryo does not have full human status before 40 days, so both these religions permit some research on embryos. Other religions take other positions. You can read more about this by downloading the extended version of this factsheet below.


Governments around the globe have passed legislation to regulate stem cell research. In the United States, laws prohibit the creation of embryos for research purposes. Scientists instead receive leftover embryos from fertility clinics with consent from donors. Most people agree that these guidelines are appropriate. Disagreements surface, however, when political parties debate about how to fund stem cell research. The federal government allocates billions of dollars each year to biomedical research. But should taxpayer dollars be used to fund embryo and stem cell research when some believe it to be unethical? Legislators have had the unique challenge of encouraging advances in science and medicine while preserving a respect for life.


U. S. President Bush, for example, limited federal funding to a study of 70 or so hES cell lines back in 2001. While this did slow the destruction of human embryos, many believe the restrictions set back the progress of stem cell research. President Obama overturned Bush s stem cell policy in 2009 to expand the number of stem cell lines available to researchers. Policy-makers are now grappling with a new question: Should the laws that govern other types of pluripotent stem cells differ from those for hES cells? If so, what new legislation is needed?