Embryo harvesting is arguably an outstanding discovery in the field of medicine that has elicited great controversy. Embryo cells possess the potential to differentiate into various forms of body tissues and organs (Blazer, & Zimmer, 2005). On the other hand, they can be applied in the development of regenerative medicine and thus help to cure certain diseases that are currently incurable.
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The practice of embryo cells harvesting has presented tough ethical questions that are discussed in various fields of study. This is due to the fact that it results in destruction of embryos after extraction of stem cells (Lynch, 2011). The main ethical challenge is whether potential lives should be destroyed at the expense of improving the wellbeing of human beings.
Arguments in support of embryo harvesting
Embryo harvesting is supported by some people because of its potential to alleviate human suffering through development of regenerative medical remedies to certain diseases (Blazer, & Zimmer, 2005). Proponents of this medical practice argue that an embryo does not possess any intrinsic value that could equate it to a human being.
In addition, they argue that the costs related to chronic diseases and related conditions overshadow the need to discontinue embryo harvesting (Caplan, & Arp, 2013). Stem cell research can be used to develop cures for diseases that are currently incurable and that have adverse financial and social implications. In addition, embryo stem cells can be used to generate replacement tissues and organs that can be used in complex medical procedures to save lives (Lynch, 2011).
The use of embryo stem cells in research has the potential to change human life significantly. Finally, proponents argue that the process of fertilization leads to formation of innumerable embryos that are ultimately destroyed by the body (Caplan, & Arp, 2013). They contend that it is okay to harvest the extra embryos and use them to conduct research that could alleviate human suffering and prolong life.
Arguments against embryo harvesting
Many people reject and oppose embryo harvesting because of its potential social implications. It encourages destruction of human life (Lynch, 2011). Embryo harvesting involves destruction of the embryos after extraction of stem cells. This is paramount to destruction of human life. Opponents compare embryo harvesting to abortion because both practices result in destruction of human life (Lynch, 2011).
An embryo is believed to possess life because of its potential to propagate life by developing into a human being. Therefore, it is unethical to improve one life by destroying another (Caplan, & Arp, 2013). Another reason for opposition of embryo harvesting is that it involves human experimentation. It is considered unethical for scientists to conduct experiments on human beings because such experiments ignore the intrinsic value of human life (Lynch, 2011).
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According to opponents of embryo harvesting, this practice devalues human life and propagates other unethical practices. Another argument against embryo harvesting is the existence of alternatives such as adult stem cells. Adult stem cell research is encouraged because it does not involve destruction of life (Lynch, 2011).
Embryo harvesting is a new concept in the field of medicine that is surrounded by controversy. It is necessary for both opponents and proponents of embryo harvesting to reach a consensus regarding the practice. It is critical to consider the potential benefits of embryo harvesting and compare them to potential effects on human life. Further research is needed to determine the viability of alternative research processes that could be used for similar purposes.
Blazer, S., & Zimmer, E. Z. (2005). The Embryo: Scientific Discovery and Medical Ethics. Basel, Switzerland: Karger Medical and Scientific Publishers.
Caplan, A. L., & Arp, R. (2013). Contemporary Debates in Bioethics. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Lynch, J. A. (2011). What are Stem Cells? : Definitions at the Intersection of Science and Politics. New York: university of Alabama press.