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Embryonic stem cell research: an ethical problem

ID: 2014-05-27-T-3323
ГБОУ ВПО Саратовский ГМУ им. В.И. Разумовского Минздрава РФ

Embryonic stem cell research: an ethical problem

Рамазанова Алия Микаиловна

Научный руководитель: ст. преподаватель Определеннова Ольга Викторовна

ГБОУ ВПО Саратовский ГМУ им. В.И. Разумовского Минздрава РФ

Кафедра иностранных языков

В наши дни дискуссия о необходимости исследования эмбриональных стволовых клеток достигла своего апогея. В данной работе рассматриваются этические проблемы данных исследований.  

Embryonic stem cells offer hope for new therapies, but their use and research entail an ethical problem, which does not have a certain solution. Therefore, we can ask: What exactly are the ethical arguments? Why are they so tricky to resolve?

Embryonic stem cell research poses a moral dilemma. It forces us to choose between two moral principles:

  • The duty to prevent or alleviate suffering
  • The duty to respect the value of human life

 To obtain embryonic stem cells, the early embryo has to be destroyed. This means destroying a potential human life.  Although embryonic stem cell research could lead to the discovery of new methods of treatment of many diseases (mostly for Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer disease) that would alleviate the suffering of many people. Which moral principle should have the upper hand in this situation depends on how we view the embryo.

The moral status of the embryo is a controversial and complex issue. On the one hand, an early embryo that has not yet implanted into the uterus does not have the psychological, emotional or physical properties that we associate with being a person. So, it does not have any interests to be protected and we can use it for the benefit of patients. On the other hand, by taking embryonic stem cells out of an early embryo, we prevent the embryo from developing in its normal way, from becoming what it was programmed to become – a human being.

Another point of view is that the embryo has increasing status as it develops. There are several stages of development that could be given increasing moral status: 1) implantation of the embryo into the uterus wall around six days after fertilization; 2) appearance of the primitive streak – the beginnings of the nervous system – at around 14 days; 3) the phase when the baby could survive if born prematurely; 4) birth.

Different religions view the status of the early human embryo in different ways. For example, in Christianity 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 120 days, so both religions permit some research on embryos.

So, if we are not sure whether a fertilized egg should be considered a human being, then we should not destroy it. A hunter does not shoot if he is not sure whether his target is a deer or a man.

Ключевые слова

Embryonic stem cells
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