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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Essay on the Moral Status of the Human Embryo

Questions to consider:
When does the human being acquire (Full or partial) moral status?
Does the moral status of an embryo created in vitro (by either IVF or SCNT) different from an in vivo fertilization made one?
What are the evidences supporting your argument/ viewpoint
Use scientific facts but not as the only source of evidentiary
support. It should be a mixture of science and non science moral ideas
such as religions, philosophies, and ethics.

Essay on the Moral Status of the Human Embryo
            The moral status of the human embryo still persists to be one of the hottest debates in the ethics of the medical field. With the high progress of science and the various discoveries of the therapeutic potential of stem cells in regenerative comes the question of the moral status of the human embryo.   This issue is still strongly debated when it comes to the ethics of embryo research, stem cell research, cloning, assisted reproduction, genetic engineering, post-coital contraception and preimplantation diagnosis. Some believe that the human embryo have the same moral status as that of the adult human being,  some other consider it just like animals or the status of other live beings and some others believe that it has no moral status at all. In order to fully understand this debate, this essay will define the nature of the embryo, examine the notion of moral status and to present the arguments regarding the issue of the moral status of human embryo.
            What is an embryo? An embryo can be defined as an organism in its early stage of developments, specifically the stage before it reach a distinct and recognizable form. According to George and Gomez-Lobo (2005)”a human embryo is a whole living member of the species Homo sapiens in the earliest stage of his or her natural development.” It is able to develop its integral organic functioning and continue to the next developmental stages (i.e. fetal stage) unless it is deprived of a suitable environment. If all goes well and the development is not interfered, the human embryo would then develop into a full human entity.
            In defining moral status, Warren (2000) says that to have a moral status is to be morally considerable or to have a certain moral standing. It is to be a being that moral agents have moral obligations to. If a certain being has a moral status then people cannot treat it in ways that just please them rather it is subjected to moral status that will restrict people to just simply subject it into anything. On the other hand if a being has no moral status then people can acts toward it any way as they please.
            Juhant and Zalec (2011) asserted that there are three main bioethical theories in approaching the topic of the moral status of human embryo. The first group of theories are composed of academics and intellectuals who claim that human embryo does not have a moral status. In this case, they believe that human embryo does not have a human dignity yet because it is not a person at all. In this type of viewpoint, the right to life and the right not to be harmed cannot be applied. The second position regarding the moral status of the human embryo are made up of people whose claim lies on the belief that human embryo has a moral status since the beginning of its conception. People who believe in this claim regard human embryo as a full person that has a right to life and a right not to be harmed. The last position regarding this topic is composed of people who believe that the human embryo gradually acquires a moral status. In this belief, a human embryo is considered to acquire a moral status in its 14th day where the central nerve system that includes consciousness and the recognition of the pain already develops. Most of the EU countries consider the 10th or the 22nd week of gestation as the moment where the moral status of the embryo is acquired.
            Those that believe that embryo has a full human moral status argue that embryo as a first sign of life deserves to be respected just as much as the fully developed human. People who believe this stand will not allow any research undertaking that intended to use embryo in their experiments. On the other hand, people who believe that the embryo has a special kind of moral status as the earliest form of human life but not the same as the fully developed human would allow research that needs human embryo only under some conditions. They limit the researches done on human embryo on the first 14 days of cell division. They also restricted the creation of human embryo just to carry out the researches. Lastly, those that believe that human embryos do not have moral status consider that it is morally acceptable to create and use the human embryo as much as any other human tissue just for the purpose of research.

Works Cited:
George, R.P. & Gomez-Lobo A (2005). The Moral Status of the Human Embryo. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. 48 (2) 201-210.

Juhant, J. & Zalec, B. (2011). Humanity After Selfish Prometheus: Chances of Dialogue nad Ethics In a technicized World. Berlin: Lit Verlag Dr. W. Hopf

Warren, MA (2000). Moral Status: Obligations to Persons and Other Living Things (Issues in Biomedical Ethics). Oxford: Oxford University Press



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