Application: Ethics of the therapeutic use of stem cells from specially created embryos, from the umbilical cord blood of a new-born baby and from an adult’s own tissues.
Arguments for Therapeutic Cloning:
- Stem cell research may pave the way for future discoveries and beneficial technologies that would not have occurred if their use had been banned
- You might be able to cure diseases and conditions that affect millions of people - Alzheimer's. Motor Neurone Disease, Multiple Sclerosis etc. Hence, it is an act of compassion for people suffering from terrible conditions.
- Stem cells can be taken from embryos that have stopped developing and would have died anyway (e.g. abortions)
- Cells are taken at a stage when the embryo has no nervous system and can arguably feel no pain
- Stem cells can be created without the need for fertilisation and destruction of ‘natural’ human embryos – induced pluripotent stem cells
- It should be up to the patient to decide on their treatment, and we shouldn't force our views onto other people. Humans should have autonomy over their own bodies.
Arguments against Therapeutic Cloning:
- Involves the creation and destruction of human embryos – both the stored embryos that are not used and additional embryos that are not required. (At what point do we afford the right to life?)
- It is a slippery slope – boundaries may be pushed further and further until embryos are routinely used as research material i.e. scientist ‘playing God’; for which there might be religious or moral objection
- Embryonic stem cells are capable of continued division and may develop into cancerous cells and cause tumours
- With additional cost and effort, alternative technologies may fulfil similar roles (e.g. nuclear reprogramming of differentiated cell lines)