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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog

We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.

According to an excellent article over at the PBS site, “…embryonic stem cell research is controversial because harvesting the cells destroys an embryo that could have grown into a baby if implanted in a woman's uterus.”

Well, a sperm could grow into a baby if it fertilizes an egg and if that fertilized egg becomes a “viable” embryo and so on. Sperm and ova have the potential to become human beings -- both before and after they unite. But potential is not reality.

“An embryo is a person,” says House Majority LeaderTom DeLay, who calls stem-cell research “the dismemberment of living, distinct human beings.” President Bush now refers to embryos as “real human lives.”

If I truly believed that embryos were “real human lives,” I’d be mighty uncomfortable knowing that, in the U.S. alone, we have about 400,000 little “babies” lying around frozen solid. I’d be even more uncomfortable knowing that several thousand of them will be intentionally discarded or destroyed.

That’s not to mention the inadvertent casualties. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, “some loss of embryos is inherent in the actual freeze-thaw process.” And the longer they’re frozen? They “conservatively estimate that about 65% of these embryos will survive the freeze-thaw process….”

Fertility clinics typically create extra embryos to ensure successful implantations. Where’s the moral outrage over the creation of these disposable “human lives?” The hypocrisy is mind-boggling:

  • It’s perfectly okay for laboratories to create excess “human lives.”
  • It’s also okay for these extras to be destroyed.
  • But it’s a sin to use them for research that could possibly save countless numbers of indisputably “real human lives?”

Read Michelle Cottle's June 2nd article in "The New Republic" for a more in-depth analysis.

IVF is a mess since couples do not know how many will occur
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