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Keywords:

  • altered nuclear transfer;
  • embryo;
  • embryonic stem cell research;
  • moral status

Abstract: We discuss in this essay the alternative techniques proposed for the isolation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) that attempt to satisfy moral issues surrounding killing embryos but show that these techniques are either redundant or do not achieve their intended aim. We discuss the difficulties associated with defining a human embryo and how the lack of clarity on this issue antagonises the ethical debate and impedes hESC research. We present scientific evidence showing that isolation of hESCs does not necessarily “kill” human embryos. In addition, we argue that even those who accord inviolable moral status to the embryo should agree that hESC research is morally obligatory, as it is beneficial to the developmental potential of the embryo and society as a whole.