Bioethics is a study of the philosophical and ethical controversies surrounding advances in biology and medicine. Embryonic stem cell research is a bioethical issue because it requires the use and destruction of human embryos. Some people feel that this is not right, not ethical. Some even feel it is not moral, that is, against their religious beliefs. Many people are ambivalent and have contradictory attitudes about if this is right or wrong. Others believe nothing is unethical or immoral about human embryonic stem cell research.
One of the bioethical issues in embryonic stem cell research is the answer to the question "When does life begin?" This is an important question especially since the government can define the answer to this question by enacting law. A law defining "when life begins" can negatively impact our rights as American citizens in many ways.
See this video to try to understand the issue of "when does life begin?". See the questions below to help you understand some of the specific controversial points surrounding this issue.
Do you know what conception is?
What did a famous theologian, Thomas Aquinas, say about when life began?
What limitations did Thomas Aquinas have in being able to answer this question adequately?
How did the scientist/bioethicist on the right (Fr. Pacholczyk) answer the question of "when does life begin"?
What did the scientist on the left (Dr. Kohen) say about how life might be defined and by what criteria instead?
Can science ever determine when the "soul" enters an embryo? Why does Fr. Pacholczyk say that is not important in answering the question of "when does life begin"?
Why would a priest say the issue is not a religion issue? What type of issue does Fr. Pacholczyk call it instead?
Do you think Dr. Kohen is confusing religion with human rights?
Can you think of a way of how a law defining "when life begins" could possibly negatively impact human rights to have children?