Some groups that do not oppose abortion are uneasy about the prospect of studying tissues derived from aborted fetuses or discarded embryos.
For example, the United Methodist church supports abortions rights, but opposes the research industry's demand for embryos. Many ethicists and scientists also oppose embryonic research. In a July statement, bioethicists, scientists and legal scholars said they objected to embryonic stem cell research on the grounds that such research is both unethical and unnecessary. Some of these critics argue that recent research showing that adult stem cells may be more versatile than previously thought, say scientists may soon be able to derive stem cells from adults.
Those who are opposed to this research also believe that their tax dollars should not go to supporting the research regardless of whether or not the research is permitted. Most critics of the embryo research ban contend that week-old blastocysts are not human beings, and that destroying those embryos does not constitute killing.
At one week, embryos are merely a cluster of cells and not deserving of the protections afforded to others, they say. When conceived naturally, a blastocyst has not been implanted in the uterus by that time. Most scientists argue that an embryo is not a person until it is at least two weeks old, when it develops a so-called primitive streak, the first evidence of a nervous system.
In late , researchers in the United States and Japan succeeded in reprogramming adult skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells. The new development offers the possibility that the controversy over the use of embryos could end. But many scientists and supporters of embryonic stem cell research caution that this advance has not eliminated the need for embryos, at least for the time being. Recently, the Pew Forum sat down with Yuval Levin, author of Tyranny of Reason , to discuss the ethical and moral grounds for opposing embryonic stem cell research.
Recently, researchers in the United States and Japan successfully turned human skin cells into cells that behave like embryonic stem cells. There has been some discussion that this advance makes the moral and ethical debate over embryonic stem cells moot.
The scientific community has reacted very positively to this advancement, which was made in November There have been many additional scientific studies published on the topic since then, and it appears increasingly likely that the cells produced using skin cells are the equivalent of embryonic stem cells.
Do you agree with Professor James Thomson, who led the American research team that made this breakthrough, when he maintains that this advance does not, for the time being, abrogate the need for embryonic stem cell research? Thomson also argued that there will still be a need to use embryos in the future. But given that there are concerns, the case for destroying embryos does become a lot weaker. But for a lot of people, the stem cell debate has always been a matter of balance. People are aware that there are ethical concerns and that there is enormous scientific promise.
Now the debate is: Given the ethical questions at stake, is the scientific promise sufficient to make us put the ethical concerns aside and support the research? I think that balance has changed because of this advance, and having an alternative to embryonic stem cell research that achieves the same result will obviously affect the way people think about the ethics of this issue.
But I do think it means that people are going to change the way they reason about the balance between science and ethics because of this advance. I know that you believe that human embryos have intrinsic worth. Do you believe that they have the same intrinsic worth as a five-year-old child or a year-old man? The question of intrinsic worth is complicated.
The question of when life begins is a biological question, and the answer actually is fairly straightforward: The essential problem here is to decide at what stage of development a human embryo acquires the interests—and the rights to protect these interests—that characterize a human being, i. This is a problem that has occupied a great deal of theological and philosophical attention and the arguments have been extensively discussed Dunstan, ; Dunstan and Seller, One principal condition is regarded as sufficient to confer interests and the right to defend them—sentience.
In this context, sentience is neither the ability to think—which is in any case very difficult to define—nor is it the ability to feel pain. Sentience is defined as the ability to form any links with the outside world. Until an organism has a rudimentary central nervous system and some sense receptors—be it for pain, touch, smell, taste, sight or sound—it cannot form any contact with the outside world and therefore is not sentient. It therefore does not seem possible to attribute sentience to a pre-implantation embryo, or indeed even to an implanted embryo until it has developed some form of nervous system and sense organs.
Along the same line, we now universally accept that a human being is dead when no contact with the outside world can be demonstrated by central nervous function.
Certainly, death is regarded as having occurred well before every individual cell of the body has died. The medieval church took the view that an embryo acquired a soul, or it became animatus , at the same time that it became formatus , i. This doctrine was derived from Aristotle who curiously believed males to become formatus at 40 days, whereas females were not so until 80 days of gestation.
The medieval church held that the abortion of an embryo that was neither formatus nor animatus was only a fineable offence; and it was only after an embryo had become animatus that abortion became a mortal sin.
At the core of the refusal of the Roman Catholic Church to countenance embryo research is a doctrine by Pope Pius IX, who declared in that an embryo acquires full human status at fertilization.
This may have been partly in response to an increased frequency of abortion but it is likely also to have been influenced by a desire to bring Christian doctrine into line with 19 th century embryology.
But women lose large numbers of pre-implantation embryos throughout their reproductive life. These embryos are not mourned, they are not given burial and no one says prayers for them.
The intra-uterine coil, widely used as a method of contraception—though not permitted by the Roman Catholic church—is designed to prevent implantation of embryos and, again, is not regarded as being morally reprehensible. Further difficulties for the view that full human status is acquired at fertilization arise from advances in reproductive biology.
Somatic cell nuclear transfer does not involve fertilization and thus turns the Pius IX doctrine ad absurdum , since it makes it possible to see in any somatic cell whose nucleus can be introduced into an oocyte, the potential for giving rise to a complete human being.
When reprogramming of cells becomes better understood, it may be possible to convert somatic cells into embryos without the need for an oocyte. If, ultimately, any somatic cell has the potential of being grown into a complete embryo and, subsequently, into a human being, it would logically mean that we should ascribe a moral status to every cell in the body—a concept that is clearly ridiculous.
The view that an embryo does not acquire the status of a human being until it is obviously of human form with a central nervous system and organs as is the view of the Protestant church , or even until it is delivered which is the view of the Jewish religion , is more defensible on philosophical grounds than is stating that human status is acquired at fertilization.
Of course, any decision relating to the particular point in development at which an embryo acquires full human status must be partially arbitrary. There are other cases where there is blurring at the interface of two categories or where distinctions are made slightly arbitrarily. This is the case in distinguishing between plants and animals; in distinguishing between male and female; and in distinguishing between the living and dead at the end of life.
But the fact that making distinctions can sometimes be difficult is not an argument for making fundamentalist distinctions or making no distinction at all. Francis Cornford wrote in the Microcosmographica Academica: A little reflection will make it evident that the Wedge argument implies the admission that the persons who use it cannot prove that the action is not just.
If they could, that would be the sole and sufficient reason for not doing it, and this argument would be superfluous. It is inherent in what Cornford writes that the fear that one may not behave justly on a future occasion is hardly a reason for not behaving justly on the present occasion. In addition to this philosophical argument, one should consider that there are also cogent biological reasons for opposing reproductive cloning using cell nuclear transfer.
This is a form of vegetative reproduction, a technique used only by plants and a few lower animals. The late William Hamilton pointed out Hamilton et al. He argues that it is the challenge of parasitism that makes the use of sexual reproduction, with its re-assortment of genes at each generation, advantageous in evolutionary terms.
In fact, the use of reproductive cloning can be defended only for farm animals, where this technique may be the best for producing, for example, cows that are resistant to BSE or sheep resistant to scrapie. Reproductive cloning should not be applied to Man and its widespread use might be evolutionarily harmful. We are also not sure yet whether somatic cells used for generating embryos carry mutations that have the potential to harm later generations.
However, this is not a problem when using stem cells for therapeutic purposes.
What are the arguments against stem cell research? Stem Cell Research I strongly oppose human cloning, as do most Americans. We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for spare body parts, or creating life for our convenience.
Mar 15, · This decision comes amidst a heated debate regarding the medical and economic potential of stem cell research as against its ethical pitfalls. The scientific, legal, ethical and philosophical arguments have been discussed extensively (Mieth, ; Colman and Burley, ).
Aug 09, · The Case Against Stem Cell Research. Opponents of research on embryonic cells, including many religious and anti-abortion groups, contend that embryos are human beings with the same rights — and thus entitled to the same protections against abuse — as anyone else. 1) Stem Cell Research - Arguments Regarding the Usage of the Knowledge. As you will most probably notice, the following arguments are not exclusively in use when talking about stem cell research. Pros. Stem cell research can potentially help treat a range of medical problems.
The final arguments against stem cell research deal with the actual cost of such treatments is simply too high to be implemented on a large scale. Stem cell research pros and cons have gained a lot of attention lately due to President Obama lifting a ban on stem cell research. Home > Stem Cells > Arguments Against Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Arguments Against Embryonic Stem Cell Research 1) Embryos are lives. An embryo is actually a human; it should be valued as highly as a human life.