More proof in that embryonic stem cell research is not—and never has been—about getting some use out of leftover IVF embryos that are due to be destroyed anyway. A serious proposal has been forwarded in the UK that would allow people to make IVF embryos, not to bring to birth, but rather, solely for the purpose of storing them for later use as a source of stem cells. From the story:
Couples could be allowed to store embryos in order to use them to create new body parts or cure diseases.
Government legal and ethical experts are to discuss whether families can ‘bank’ embryos not just for procreation but also for use by doctors to create personalized treatments for parents and their children.
Now, [under UK law] embryos—the first stage of life after an egg has been successfully fertilized—can be stored for up to five years but only for procreation. But a huge ethical debate is set to erupt as the Government’s fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), moves closer to endorsing new developments in medical science. It will debate whether embryos could be stored to harvest important stem cells that have the ability to turn into any tissue type in the body.
Given that this is Brave New Britain, which already allows the creation of human/animal hybrid cloned embryos, the outcome of this “debate” is easy to predict.
This is figurative cannibalism, and it won’t stop with embryos. Once the principle is accepted that living human beings can be objectified and used as a product, there is no way it will be limited to the earliest humans. Indeed, as I have often described, fetal farming is already on the table in bioethics discourse and some of the world’s most notable medical journals have published articles urging that people with profound cognitive impairments be used as sources of organs and human subjects in medical experimentation.
Ideas have consequences. Once we state that human life does not have intrinsic moral value simply and merely because it is human, there isn’t much that we can’t justify.