May 28, 2002


The Anti-Cloning Conundrum (MICHAEL J. SANDEL, 5/28/02, NY Times)
Imagine a fertility clinic that accepts egg and sperm donations for two purposes - reproduction and stem cell research. No cloning is involved. The clinic creates two groups of embryos, one from eggs and sperm donated for the purpose of in vitro fertilization, the other from eggs and sperm donated by people who want to advance the cause of stem cell research.

Which group of embryos should an ethical scientist use for stem cell research? Those who agree with Senators Frist and Landrieu would presumably permit the scientist to use spare embryos from the first group (since they were created for reproduction and will otherwise be discarded), but not from the second group (since they were deliberately created for research). But why draw the line there? If the creation and sacrifice of spare embryos in infertility treatment is morally acceptable, why isn't the creation and sacrifice of embryos for stem cell research also acceptable? After all, both practices serve worthy ends, and curing diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and diabetes is at least as important as enabling infertile couples to have genetically related children.

Of course bioethics is not only about ends, but also about means. Those who oppose creating embryos for research argue that doing so is exploitative and fails to accord embryos the respect they are due. But the same argument could be made against fertility treatments that create excess embryos bound for destruction, which is the common practice in this country.

He's right, as were opponents of in vitro fertilization twenty years ago; there's no coherent difference and in vitro fertilization should be banned too. The cost is too high. Let the couples adopt instead. Posted by Orrin Judd at May 28, 2002 10:36 AM
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