Friday, April 21, 2006

Church of Scotland Backs Use of IVF Embryos for Stem Cell Research

A committee appointed by the Church of Scotland has decided that embryos originally created for in vitro fertilization may be destroyed for stem cell research as long as they are under 14 days old. The reason? Embryos at this stage of development don't have the "moral status" of humans.

According to this article in the Scotsman:

[The committee's report] says that although for some in the church "the embryo already has the same human dignity as a person who has been born", the majority of the working group took the view that "the moral status of the human embryo is not established until some time into its biological development after conception".
Unfortunately, the article doesn't mention the reasoning offered in support of this assertion.

The same committee opposed cloning and the deliberate creation of embryos for stem cell research "except into serious diseases and only under exceptional circumstance". But this is inconsistent. If the committee really believes that human embryos have no moral status prior to 14 days old, why not recommend that human embryos can be created for stem cell research under any circumstance as long as they are destroyed prior to day 14 of their existence?

The Church's position, regardless of how vehemently it may deny it, reduces to an affirmation that human life is not inherently valuable. Rather, only those members of the species who have reached an arbitrarily decided upon level of development are worthy of society's protection.

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