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Keywords:

  • moral status;
  • stem cell research;
  • human embryo;
  • induced pluripotent stem cells;
  • moral complicity

ABSTRACT

Recent advances in reprogramming technology do not bypass the ethical challenge of embryo sacrifice. Induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS) research has been and almost certainly will continue to be conducted within the context of embryo sacrifice. If human embryos have moral status as human beings, then participation in iPS research renders one morally complicit in their destruction; if human embryos have moral status as mere precursors of human beings, then advocacy of iPS research policy that is inhibited by embryo sacrifice concerns renders one morally complicit in avoidable harms to persons. Steps may be taken to address these complicity concerns, but in the final analysis there is no alternative to achieving clarity with respect to the moral status of the human embryo.