top of page

The moral dilemma facing stem cell research is complex and difficult to navigate for... consistent investors. This is partly due to the various methods in which obtaining stem cells from embryonic sources or foetus differ. The one consistent factor around the ethical dilemma is that a human embryo or foetus is always destroyed in the process of harvesting. This naturally leads to the question of when life begins and how each faith-group view differs.

An example view is the Catholic guidance on stem cell research which states that "The corpses of human embryos and fetuses, whether they have been deliberately aborted or not, must be respected just as the remains of other human beings. In particular, they cannot be subjected to mutilation or autopsies if their death has not yet been verified and with the consent of the parents or of the mothers...Also, in the case of dead fetuses, as for the corpses of adult persons, all commercial trafficking must be considered illicit and should be prohibited" (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 1987). This can be interpreted as 'Embryos, for the Catholic Church, are human life, no matter the age or stage, and should be respected as such'.

Other faith-groups such as Islam have the concept of a soul and human body both as distinct components to life. Some Islamic scholars have determined that the soul is gifted to an embryo around 40 days in (or 120 days by some sources). This can be interpreted to mean that prior to this stage of human development, there is not life but a potential life.

However, despite this, there is the further issue around human cloning and wether stem cell research clones human embryos or whether it is a mere product of somatic cell nuclear transplantation (SCNT). This can also be broken down into therapeutic cloning or reproductive cloning.

Finally, there exists the controversy over the commercialisation of stem cells via various clinic sources such as Planned Parenthood. Further ethical studies from the NIHD can be found here.


bottom of page