Embryonic Stem cells, also known as ES cells, are pluripotent stem cells which are a derivative of an embryo at its early stages before implantation. At this stage, the embryo is called a blastocyst (Katrien 27). After fertilization, it takes between four and five days for an embryo of a human being to reach this stage whereby it will consist of between 50 to 150 cells. The pluripotent cells offer the viability of having a renewable source for tissue and cell replacement to treat different kinds of diseases like spinal cord injuries, burns, heart diseases, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis among others (Katrien 27).
Ambassadors for moral argument on this harvesting of the cells point out that an embryo has to be seen as a person or a potential person from its embryonic stage, which is immediately after fertilization. The same way an infant is considered a human during its infancy, so should the embryo be accorded the same dignity and respect that a fully grown person deserves (King and Jacob 85). The argument continues that if there is no clear-cut surety of whether an embryo is human or not after fertilization, then it should not be destroyed. Just as it is in a real-life situation if a hunter is not 100% sure whether the target he is aiming at is a man or a deer, he cannot shoot. By extracting some of its cells, an early embryo is denied its normal development as it is programmed to be, that is to be a human being (Sivaraman 45).
Religious views differ from one religion to another. Christians believe that human life starts immediately after fertilization while Islam believes that ‘ensoulment’ occurs 40 days after fertilization (Katrien 36). The Jews do also hold this believe that 40 days after conception is the beginning of human life. Though they may differ at which point human life starts, all these religions view embryonic stem cell research as interfering with human life and goes against the teachings of their respective books (Sivaraman 48).
In general, embryonic stem cell research needs to be advanced if it offers a better alternative to better alternative to conventional disease. For example, having a cancer patient opt for stem cell replacement could prove to be less painful, less expensive and less time-consuming than to go through radio and chemotherapy sessions that would not give a guarantee to full recovery.
Katrien, Devolder. “The Embryonic Stem Cell Research.” Oxford University Press (2015).
King, Nancy MP, and Jacob Perrin. “Ethical issues in stem cell research and therapy.” Stem cell research & therapy 5.4 (2014): 85.
Sivaraman, Mathana Amaris Fiona, and Siti Nurani Mohd Noor. “Ethics of embryonic stem cell research according to Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic, and Islamic religions: perspective from Malaysia.” Asian Biomedicine 8.1 (2014): 43-52.