A common debating ground in the pro-life argument is regarding embryonic stem cell research, a process which attempts to use crucial growth cells in barely conceived infants to cure diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other diseases that involve parts of the body simply wearing out.
Attempting to cure these diseases is a noble thing. But a noble end does not justify savage means. What is more, savage means simply will not help in this situation. (Or in most situations really.) And it is quite demonstrable the means are morally culpable, that they are wholly unnecessary, and that they are not effective.
First, an embryo differs from most humans in 3 ways; development, rationality, and dependence. The first, development, is an absurd means for justifying the killing of innocents. If some stages of live are inherently superior to others, than which is the best stage of life? And would it not be rational for us to kill ourselves after this superior phase of life, as it’s all downhill afterwards? The only way to avoid such a conclusion is to posit that humanity has an equal value at all stages of life, which is precisely what I argue. Second, rationality, similar if somewhat distinct to the area of development. The first objection to this mode of justification is that it opens the gates for limitless animal abuse. The second is that if rationality is essential to the definition of humanity, than we can do whatever we will to the mentally handicapped. Dependence is not justification for treating embryos as beneath us either. First, as humans we are always dependent upon one another. That’s a consequence of the division of labor. If every other human were to disappear, very few people could survive. Second, there are many humans besides embryos who are totally dependent upon their caretakers, yet most would be appalled at the idea of killing them.
Second, Embryonic stem cell research is not necessary simply because of all the Adult or umbilical cord stem cell research that has been done. Alternative means of gathering stem cells have not only led to far greater medical progress than embryonic stem cells, but they also do not divide society in the same way embryonic stem cell research does.
Some may protest that embryonic stem cell research holds potential in areas that other means of research do not. However, if this were so, we would have no need for any state funding of the research at all. If there was genuine potential, private companies would do it. Forget Alzheimer’s for a moment. If embryonic stem cell research could cure baldness, it would be a multi-billion dollar find. Factor in all the more serious diseases and if embryonic stem cell research were worth anything, private companies would be dog piling to try and get their hands on it. But they aren’t. That’s why there are so many attempts to get governmental funding, because private companies have looked at this and decided it’s just not worth the resources.