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  • Writer's pictureFolakemi Fregene

Unwanted Human Embryonic Stem Cells: Ethics of Harvesting in Scientific Research.


Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are a type of cell that have the potential to become any other cell in the body. Because of their highly malleable properties it makes them highly attractive for scientific research, as they can be used to investigate diseases, develop treatments, and create tissue for medical transplants. However, due to ethical considerations, the harvesting of hESCs for research purposes is a highly controversial topic. This analysis examines the various ethical considerations surrounding the harvesting of hESCs for research, and concludes that, in certain circumstances, the harvesting of unwanted hESCs for scientific research should be allowed.


Overview of Human Embryonic Stem Cells

hESCs are derived from the inner cell mass of a blastocyst, which is an early stage of development in the human embryo. These cells are pluripotent, this means that they can be induced to differentiate into any other cell type in the body. This makes them extremely useful for research purposes as they can be used to investigate developmental processes and diseases, create tissue for medical transplants, and develop treatments for a wide range of illnesses.


Ethical Considerations The harvesting of hESCs for research purposes is a highly controversial topic, as it involves the destruction of human embryos, which raises numerous ethical considerations. The most commonly cited ethical concern is that harvesting hESCs is a form of “playing God”, as it involves manipulating human life in a way that would otherwise be impossible without them. Other ethical considerations include the potential for exploitation of vulnerable individuals, the risks of creating a “commodity” out of human life, and the potential for human embryos to be used as a source of organs for transplants. There is also the potential risk of biological injustices in using hESCs similar to


Arguments for Harvesting Unwanted hESCs for Research

Proponents of the harvesting of unwanted hESCs for research purposes argue that, in certain circumstances, it is ethical to do so. One argument is that hESCs can be used to alleviate human suffering, as they can be used to develop treatments for a range of diseases, including certain cancers and genetic disorders. Another argument is that harvesting hESCs for research can be seen as a form of “recycling”, similar to organ donation as it will enable the cells to be used for a beneficial purpose, rather than being discarded as medical waste. Furthermore, proponents of hESCs argue that harvesting hESCs for research purposes is no more ethically problematic than other forms of medical research, such as animal testing.


Arguments Against Harvesting Unwanted hESCs for Research

Opponents of the harvesting of hESCs for research purposes argue that it is ethically wrong to do so, as it involves the destruction of human embryos, which raises numerous ethical concerns. Furthermore, opponents argue that harvesting hESCs for research could lead to the exploitation of vulnerable individuals, as it could be used to create a “commodity” out of human life. Additionally, opponents argue that harvesting hESCs could lead to the potential misuse of the cells, such as the creation of human-animal hybrids.


Ultimately, the harvesting of hESCs for research purposes is a highly controversial topic, as it involves the destruction of human embryos, which raises numerous ethical considerations. However, in certain circumstances, the harvesting of unwanted hESCs for scientific research should be allowed. The potential benefits of harvesting hESCs for research purposes, such as the development of treatments for a range of diseases, outweigh the potential ethical considerations. Therefore, it is recommended that the harvesting of unwanted hESCs for research purposes should be allowed in certain circumstances.

References & Works Cited

1. Pal, R., & Schatten, G. (2010). Human embryonic stem cells: an update. Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 20(1), 6-13.

2. De Wert, G., Dondorp, W., & Pennings, G. (2004). Ethical aspects of the use of human embryonic stem cells. Human Reproduction, 19(5), 882-889.

3. Hurlbut, W. B. (2004). Human embryonic stem cells: ethical and policy considerations. The American Journal of Bioethics, 4(2), 24-35.

4. Macer, D. R. (2005). Ethical issues with human embryonic stem cell research. Science and Engineering Ethics, 11(4), 333-349.

5. Anderson, W. (2010). Ethical considerations of human embryonic stem cell research. Nature Reviews Genetics, 11(9), 645-654.Unwanted human embryonic stem cells should be harvested for scientific research. Unwanted human embryonic stem cells should be harvested for scientific research.

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