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Debate on Stem Cell Development from Human Embryo


Several ethical debates have been conducted in the past concerning the development, utilization, and obliteration of human embryos. Stem cells can change to several different cells that can be used in medical treatments. Although stem cell engineering has been done to help in solving various medical problems such as trauma, genetic complications and degenerative complications, the development of human embryo cells has actually faced much criticism from different interest groups in the socio-economic and political spheres. It is on this background that this paper seeks to explore the various arguments raised against the destruction of human embryos with an aim of determining if the congress should pass legislation to prevent the destruction of embryos or not. This is because “many people believe that life begins at conception” (Humber and Almeder 17).

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Arguments in Favor of the Obliteration of Human Embryos

Development of the Embryo

The people who support the use of embryos in developing stem cells have the following arguments. They believe that embryo cells can develop in a controlled environment like a laboratory and split into many body tissues. This enhances the prospect of using stem cells in cellular therapy. This argument connects the “utilitarian argument” (Coxon 17), which can be explained as follows. First, embryos can not survive in the external environment like human beings who can survive in several conditions. This means that they are not equal. Second, many zygotes always fail to develop after conception. Hence many embryos end up being lost because of different complications as compared to the proposed number of embryos that could possibly be destroyed if they were used in stem cell development and treatment (Coxon 16).A group of people have the feeling that the onset of life is only when the heart beat starts or during the brain development which starts approximately two months from conception. Therefore embryos are different from human beings.

In Vitro Fertilization

The technique of “in vitro fertilization” (Campbell 89) as used in scientific research produces several embryos which are not used and they are always supposed to be destroyed. The use of such embryos in research is better than destroying them. Although the development of a stem cell leads to the obliteration of an embryo, the newly developed stem works independently without requiring an embryo. Currently, scientific research on stem cell development demands that embryos should be fertilized in order to provide embryo stem cells. This process however leads to “the destruction of an embryo” (Campbell 76).

Arguments against Obliteration of Human Embryos

The ethical debate is now based on the validity of making and destroying an embryo. The people who are against the destruction of embryos and “adult stem cells” (Coxon 17), have always based their arguments on the value of life as follows. According to them, the blood tapped from the umbilical cord can be used as an alternative source for making the stem cell and it has always been effective as compared to the application of embryo cells in this process. More importantly, scientific research on “adult stem cell can lead to better medical solutions if few resources are provided for scientific research in embryo stem cell” (Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 39). Various religious organizations in U.S.A have also continued to express their discontentment about the idea of deriving stem cells from embryos. For example, the doctrines of the Catholic Church are against this scientific development and they treat it as unjustifiable way of taking the life of a person (May 34). However, Catholics accept the development of stem cells using adult tissues. Other religious organizations such as the Methodists and the Pentecostal church have the same stand as that of the Catholics.

The Government Policy on Stem Cell Development

The congress of U.S has always passed several legislations in favor of funding this scientific research. For example, in the year 2004 majority of the members of the congress urged the president to increase the government funding on this project. In 2005 the congress voted in favor of the demand to reduce the rigidity of the terms under which the federal government supports this project. In 2009 president Obama stopped the regulations that limit the funding of stem cell research. The new legislation that was put in place allows the scientists to apply for government financial support for these projects and the policy also enables them to seek for support from the private sector. This is an indicator that the U.S government is committed in supporting this research (News Batch).


From the above discussion, it is evident that scientific research in stem cell development using human embryo can bring some improvements in the medical field. For example, it can be used for developing drugs that can treat malignant diseases like genetic complications which have caused a great threat on the life of mankind. The advancement in adult stem cell research has also given alternative solutions for developing stem cells. This can be embraced in order to end the long debate about the authenticity of developing stem cells out of human embryos. In my opinion, the government should therefore pass legislation that prevents the obliteration of the embryos once the scientists have got dependable solutions for developing stem cells. The citizens can also express their opinion about this issue by conducting a referendum in order to provide a long term solution.


Campbell, Neil. Biology: concepts and connections. San Fransisco: Pearson/ Benjamin Cumming, 2009.Print.

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Coxon, Amy. “Frozen embryos: stem cell source or human life?” About Stem Cell Research 3 (2010): 16-18.

Humber, James and Robert Almeder. Stem cell research: biomedical ethics reviews. Totowa: Humana Press, 2004.Print.

May, William. Catholic bioethics and gift of human life. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2008.Print.

News Batch. “Stem cell research.” Newsbatch.N.p. 2011. Web.

Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. “In-vitro fertilization clinics.” Religious Tolerance 6 (2010): 38-40.

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