Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Surplus Embryos: A Moral Argument

By Malosack Berjis

Mississippi College Law Review
2010

Article

*427 HUMAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH AND SURPLUS EMBRYOS: A MORAL ARGUMENT

Malosack Berjis [FN1]

Copyright (c) 2010 Mississippi College Law Review; Malosack Berjis

I. Introduction

At this very moment, millions of Americans are living with dreadful diseases, conditions and disabilities that, if not life-threatening, make each day of their lives a painful one. Whether it is our next-door neighbor's young daughter suffering from juvenile diabetes or our own grandfather facing the hellish symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease, it seems like we all know at least one innocent person battling a devastating disease or disorder. Well, there is hope--hope that is found, but is being wasted away in the freezers of fertility clinics all over the country.
“When couples [that are unable to conceive a child naturally] engage in assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization [“IVF” ], many fertilized embryos are created but not all are used in the processes.” [FN2] According to the University of Michigan Center for Stem Cell Biology, “[t]housands of embryos that cannot be used for fertility treatment are discarded as medical waste each year by IVF clinics.” [FN3] Within these leftover, destined-to-be discarded, frozen embryos lay stem cells: the key to this hope that could relieve these millions of Americans from suffering and disability. [FN4]
Human embryonic stem cell research holds the medical potential to help find cures and/or treatments for a wide range of incurable human diseases and disorders, such as Parkinson's Disease, spinal cord injuries, genetic birth defects, diabetes, heart disease, ALS (i.e., amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), MS (i.e., multiple sclerosis) and certain cancers--including, but not limited to, lymphoma and leukemia--as well as, juvenile diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease. [FN5] Nobel Prize *428 Winner and former director of the National Institute of Health (NIH), Harold Varmus, stated, “[t]here is almost no realm of medicine that might not be touched by this innovation.” [FN6]
Yet this hope faces strong ethical opposition, from social conservatives, based on the argument that to destroy a human embryo, which is required in order to conduct the research, is no different from murdering a human being. [FN7] As stated by former President George W. Bush, one of the most infamous opponents of embryonic stem cell research, “[d]estroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical.” [FN8] However, “[p]roponents of embryonic stem cell research argue that ‘preimplantation embryos will be discarded in any event and it is appropriate to gain some benefit from the act.”’ [FN9]
This paper presents an ideal middle ground that would allow for the use of human embryos for embryonic stem cell research, without resorting to such methods as creating human embryos specifically for research purposes [FN10] or for cloning human embryos [FN11] in order to derive human embryonic stem cells. Accordingly, with its specific focus being stem cells derived from embryos created in the process of IVF treatments that are ‘surplus' and destined to be destroyed, this paper argues that nothing is morally wrong with using such leftover embryos to save or extend a higher form of life--that is, a living, breathing, human person.
Part II of this paper begins with a scientific description of what stem cells are and the various ways in which they can be derived (i.e., the various sources of stem cells). This section particularly concentrates on adult and embryonic cells, the two main sources from which stem cells can be derived. Although “[o]pponents of [embryonic stem cell research] maintain that researchers can avoid destroying embryos by using adult stem cells for *429 this research and therapy,” [FN12] this section will point out the myriad of scientific reasons why “adult stem cells do not show the promise that embryonic stem cells do.” [FN13] Further, this section will provide, more importantly, that: “[t]he key question is not so much a matter of embryonic versus adult stem cells, but rather, the key question [it] is a matter of pluripotent versus multipotent stem cells.” [FN14]
Considering that “[a]mong the many moral issues that arise in relation to stem cell research, the debate surrounding research on ‘spare’ embryos from IVF procedures is exemplary,” [FN15] part II provides a brief background of IVF as well as a description of the IVF process during which human embryos are produced. This section then goes on to discuss IVF as a source of ‘spare’ embryos, and how “[e]mbryonic stem cells are commonly extracted from [these] unwanted, surplus embryos,” [FN16] since, “[w]ith the parents' consent, embryos slated for disposal [are] used by researchers to derive embryonic stem cells.” [FN17]
Part III discusses the moral status of human embryos and the role it plays with regard to embryonic stem cell research. “Because the embryo's moral status ranges from nonexistent to that of a fully developed human being, the embryo's destruction is the source of most of the debate surrounding embryonic stem cell research.” [FN18] This section examines the three different positions held on the moral status of the human embryo, each of which appeals to one of three common notions: potentiality, personhood, and respect.
Finally, this paper concludes that the use of surplus embryos - leftover from IVF procedures and that would otherwise be discarded - for human embryonic stem cell research is morally acceptable. Moreover, it reaches a compromise in an effort to make the hope this type of research holds a reality by finding treatments and/or cures to relieve the millions who suffer through severe pain and disability and look death in the face each and every day.

*430 II. Stem Cells

A. Scientific Background

“A stem cell is essentially the building block of the human body.” [FN19] “Stem cells are master cells of the body-cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are created.” [FN20] The way this happens is that “[w]hen a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a blood cell, a brain cell,” a nerve cell, a heart cell, etc. [FN21] Thus, “under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can become cells [ ] with special functions,” such as the beating cells of a cardiac patient's heart muscle, the insulin producing cells of a diabetic's pancreas, [FN22] the nerve cells of a paraplegic's spinal chord, or even the brain cells of a Parkinson patient's brain. [FN23] For this reason, scientists and researchers all over the world maintain that “[s]tem cell research holds great promise for improving the quality of life of millions of people currently suffering from incurable diseases or conditions.” [FN24]
“However, not all stem cells are created equal.” [FN25] One category of stem cells is “limited to producing only certain types of specialized cells.” [FN26] Such stem cells are considered multipotent. [FN27] The other category of stem cells have the ability to give rise to all of the various cell types, including any specialized cell, in the human body under the right conditions. [FN28] A stem cell possessing such flexibility is considered pluripotent. [FN29] While “pluripotent” stem cells are relatively abundant and easy to identify, contrarily, “multipotent” stem cells are scarce, such that they are only found in a limited number of tissues, and difficult to identify. [FN30]

B. Stem Cells Sources

“Researchers have discovered several sources of stem cells.” [FN31] Research on three of these sources is at a very early stage (i.e., umbilical cord stem cells, amniotic fluid stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells *431 [“iPS cells” ]). [FN32] Further, the “two types of stem cells that scientists work with the most” which also are the most controversial are adult and embryonic stem cells. [FN33]
1. Umbilical Cord Stem Cells
One source of stem cells is the umbilical cord of a newborn baby. [FN34] These stem cells are present in the blood of the umbilical cord during and shortly after delivery. [They] are in the blood at the time of delivery, because they move from the liver, where blood-formation takes place during fetal life, to the bone marrow, where blood is made after birth. Umbilical cord stem cells are similar to stem cells that reside in bone marrow, and can be used for the treatment of leukemia, and other diseases of the blood. [FN35]
“[U]mbilical cord stem cells are isolated from umbilical cords, at the time of a healthy birth,” before the placenta is discarded, which is the normal practice and procedure. [FN36] Thus, “[e]fforts are now being undertaken to collect these cells and store them in freezers for later use.” [FN37]
Yet, umbilical cord stem cells are not free of concerns. “[O]ne problem is that there may not be enough umbilical cord stem cells in any one sample to transplant into an adult.” [FN38] Moreover, umbilical cord stem cells pose a risk of immune rejection when used for therapies on someone other than the donor-patient. [FN39] And, scientists have yet to establish whether stem cells from umbilical cord blood are truly pluripotent. [FN40]
2. Amniotic Fluid Stem Cells
“Recently, scientists have also discovered the existence of cells . . . in amniotic fluid.” [FN41] Amniotic fluid fills the sac that surrounds and protects a developing fetus in the uterus. Researchers have identified stem cells in samples of amniotic fluid drawn from pregnant women during a procedure called amniocentesis. During this test, a doctor inserts a long, thin needle into a pregnant woman's abdomen to collect amniotic fluid. [FN42] *432 This fluid would also normally be discarded after delivery of a newborn baby. [FN43]
It has been found that “the hyarluronic acid present in the amniotic fluid is of a special nature such that it allows the . . . stem cells to continue replicating with very high efficiency (an advantage also absent in the internal milieu in which adult stem cells exist).” [FN44] As it happens, “[r]esearchers have used amniotic fluid to identify stem cells that could develop into several other types of cells.” [FN45]
But, similar to umbilical cord stem cells, amniotic fluid stem cells are not without their own issues. First of all, “[t]he newly discovered amniotic fluid stem cells [are] not ‘pluripotent.”’ [FN46] Moreover, “[m]ore study of amniotic fluid stem cells is needed to understand their potential.” [FN47]
3. Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
“Recently, cells with properties similar to embryonic stem cells, referred to as pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) have been engineered from somatic cells [i.e., umbilical cord or adult stem] . . . [i]nduced pluripotent cells (iPS cells) are non-pluripotent cells that were engineered (‘induced’) to become pluripotent, that is, able to form all cell types of the body.” [FN48] “By altering the genes in the adult cells, researchers were able to reprogram the cells to act similarly to embryonic stem cells.” [FN49] Simply stated, cells already specialized were changed into an unspecialized stated similar to an embryonic stem cell.
However, “whether this new type of stem cells can be as useful as embryonic stem cells remains to be seen,” [FN50] because although “iPS cells and embryonic stem cells share many characteristics, they are not identical.” [FN51] Additionally, “[w]hile this new technique may help researchers avoid the controversies that come with embryonic stem cells, more research is needed. The technique of altering adult cells involves processes that may not be safe for use in people, though researchers are studying safer ways of altering these cells.” [FN52] Thus, “a great deal of work remains before these methods can be used to generate stem cells suitable for safe and effective therapies.” [FN53] So, “it would be a serious mistake to conclude that recent *433 developments in iPS cell research . . . avert the need for ongoing research on [human embryonic stem] cells.” [FN54]
4. Adult Stem Cells
“The adult stem cell is an undifferentiated (unspecialized) cell that is found in a differentiated (specialized) tissue; it can renew itself and become specialized to yield all of the specialized cell types of the tissue from which it originated.” [FN55] Adult “[s]tem cells can be found in small numbers in various tissues in the fetal and adult body.” [FN56] “Sources of adult stem cells have been found in the . . . blood stream, cornea and retina of the eye, the dental pulp of the tooth, liver, skin, gastrointestinal tract, and pancreas.” [FN57]
“The most common source of tissue-specific stem cells is the bone marrow, located in the center of some bones. There are different types of stem cells found in the bone marrow including hematopoietic or blood stem cells . . . [and its] well established that hematopietic stem cells form blood,” which could in theory then be transplanted into the patient (i.e., a bone marrow transplant). [FN58] But, the problem with adult stem cell transplants, particularly regarding bone marrow transplants “is that the patient risks a devastating immune rejection when the donor's cells are too genetically different from the patient's [cells].” [FN59] Such a rejection may not simply pose a physical danger to the patient, but there may also be an emotional danger attributed as well. And, other problems with adult stem cells may arise.
In addition to the aforementioned drawback, adult stem cells “are difficult to harvest, are severely limited in quantity,” [FN60] and are hard to isolate. [FN61] Most problematic of adult stem cells is their limited flexibility, in other words they “are only capable of developing into a few of the [220] celltypes” found in the human body. [FN62] Thus, due to their multipotent nature, adult stem cells cannot be researched to the magnitude of embryonic stem cells. [FN63]
Another reason adult stem cells have limited medical application is because of their high likelihood of containing more (genetic) abnormalities *434 due to environmental hazards, such as sunlight and toxins. [FN64] Furthermore, given that adult stem cells are already partially differentiated, “biologists are unanimous that even the most potent adult stem cells cannot approach the therapeutic power of embryonic stem cells.” [FN65] “At present, few diseases are treatable with adult stem cells; these include leukemia, sickle cell anemia, metabolic disorders, and some immunodeficiencies.” [FN66]
5. Human Embryonic Stem Cells
Human embryonic stem cells only exist in five-day-old blastocysts--hollow balls of approximately 150-200 cells each. [FN67] The very early embryo develops two distinct types of cells, one of which is called the inner cell mass. [FN68] Embryonic stem cells are derived from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst (i.e., hollow balls containing approximately 150-200 cells), whereby a cluster of cells is extracted from the blastocyst and subsequently cultured in a laboratory. [FN69] “As the initial mass of cells divides and creates new cells, the cells are placed into new culture dishes. After six months of this culturing process, the original [cluster of cells] can result in millions of pluripotent stem cells.” [FN70] And, as a result of their pluripotent, nature, embryonic stem cells are capable of developing “into every cell, every tissue and every organ in the human body.” [FN71] “Because of this versatility, embryonic stem cells have the highest potential for use to regenerate or repair diseased tissue and organs in people.” [FN72] Therefore, their potential to develop into any of the 220 types of cells in the human body is the reason many researchers see embryonic stem cells “as having virtually unlimited application in the treatment and cure of many human diseases and disorders,” [FN73] thus, making the human embryo the most promising source of therapeutic stem cells to date.
However, in embryonic development, the same cluster of cells “that contributes to the favorable characteristics of embryonic stem cells” [FN74] would also eventually give rise to all the organs and tissues of the future embryo and fetus, assuming that the blastocyst successfully implants itself on the uterine wall. [FN75] Consequently, “[c]ompared to adult, umbilical, or amniotic stem cells, use of human embryonic stem cells is deemed morally *435 objectionable by some because once embryonic cells are extracted from the inner cell mass,” the embryo no longer has the potential to develop into a human being after these cells are extracted. [FN76]
However, the human embryos typically used for stem cell research are generally those that “are those remaining at the conclusion of fertility treatments that would otherwise be discarded,” [FN77] rather than any created or cloned specifically for research purposes. Furthermore, given that most of the hundreds of thousands of surplus embryos currently held in fertility clinics around the country will eventually be discarded, thus destroyed and wasted. [FN78] The preferable choice would be to use the IVF embryos intended for infertile couples that are no longer needed. [FN79] The use of these “spare” embryos allows for the exploration of “the potential medical benefits of stem cell research, while avoiding the ethical dilemmas that arise when researchers” use human embryos created or cloned for the sole purpose of deriving new stem cell lines. [FN80]

III. In Vitro Fertilization “Spare” Embryos

A. Background

Couples having difficulty conceiving a child naturally may pursue that effort through use of IVF - the most common form of assisted reproductive technology (“ART”). [FN81] IVF usually involves taking eggs from a woman, placing them in a laboratory culture dish together with her partner's sperm, and then allowing fertilization to take place. [FN82] Then, fertilized eggs become embryos. [FN83] The final stage of the IVF procedure entails transferring the embryos into the mother's uterus, in the hopes that she will become pregnant. [FN84]
Embryos are typically transferred between three days or five days after fertilization. [FN85] An embryo that has developed for approximately five days after fertilization is known as a blastocyst. [FN86] Once they have reached the blastocyst stage, one or two of these embryos are transferred into the *436 mother's uterus. [FN87] When successful, pregnancy occurs where at least one embryo embeds into the uterine wall.

B. Source of Surplus Embryos

Women utilizing IVF have more embryos created than the number that could safely return to her uterus during fertilization in order to increase her chances of becoming pregnant from a single IVF cycle; however, the number of embryos varies depending on the doctor as well as the policies of the particular fertility clinic. [FN88] At the couples' choice and expense, such remaining embryos are cryopreserved, or frozen, at fertility clinics, making future ART cycles easier, less expensive, and less invasive than the original IVF treatment. [FN89] Roughly half of the IVF couples have one frozen embryo not shifted to the uterus. [FN90]
Due to the number of fertilized eggs not implanted which will inevitably be wasted, blastocysts are stored nationwide in freezers. [FN91] In 2003, an estimated 400,000 blastocysts were in frozen storage and the number was growing. [FN92] These stored blastocysts could be the supply necessary for meaningful embryonic stem cell medical research. [FN93] Perhaps such medical research could improve, prolong, and even save the lives of the millions of men, women, and children who are suffering in this country every single day.

C. Disposition and Medical Research

Once the couples have completed their families, they have four options as to the disposition of any stored, leftover, or excess embryos: (1) “they can have the embryos destroyed;” [FN94] (2) “they can store the embryos indefinitely at their own expense;” [FN95] (3) they can anonymously give the embryos to another infertile couple; [FN96] or (4) “they can donate the embryos to general or stem cell research.” [FN97] In all reality, “[o]f these four options, *437 only embryos donated to other infertile couples could result in a person.” [FN98] Researchers from Duke University and Johns Hopkins University conducted a survey of more than 1,000 infertility patients with frozen embryos, where nearly half of the respondents indicated a likelihood of donating frozen embryos for medical research purposes, and 60 percent of the respondents indicated the same for stem cell research. [FN99] Such data suggest that the majority of infertility patients relate donating their remaining embryos for medical research as preferable to simply discarding them, “donating them to other infertile people, or storing them indefinitely.” [FN100]
Fertility clinics lose contact with 15 to 25 percent of families with frozen embryos. [FN101] Embryos are considered abandoned after five years passes without contact with the couple where significant efforts were made to reach the couple. [FN102] Then, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine guidelines, a clinic may dispose of the embryos. [FN103]
However, one little-known, important detail that many are not aware of is that these spare blastocysts are not always “[e]mbryos originally created for infertility treatments but beyond the need of the . . . couple being treated.” [FN104] Such excess embryos can also include those created in the course of IVF procedures, but are now intended to be discarded because of their unsuitability. Such embryos include any leftover because the couple chose not to implant them due to genetic mutations and/or any embryos that might have been “malformed in some way [thus] caus[ing] them to be rejected for implantation into the mother.” [FN105] Yet, regardless of the reason why these embryos will never be transferred to a women's womb, “the reality is that most of the embryos fabricated in fertility clinics . . . will never develop into human beings . . . They will be destroyed, having served no useful purpose whatever,” [FN106] all because of a moral concern for “‘a corpuscle one two-hundredth of an inch in diameter, [that] is not a human being.”’ [FN107] “Ultimately, however, the promise that embryonic stem cell research may provide the best hope for discovering disease treatments and cures outweighs these concerns.” [FN108]

*438 IV. The Issue of Morality

“In talking about the value of human life, one cannot escape the issue of morality.” [FN109] According to a report issued by the Republican House Policy Committee, “the destruction of one class of human beings for the benefit of another class of human beings raises the most telling ethical considerations.” [FN110] Opponents of embryonic stem cell research strongly believe that there is absolutely no way to morally justify the use of human embryos for medical research. However, even President Barack Obama disagrees with this position, stating that, “hundreds of thousands of embryos stored in the U.S. in in-vitro fertilization clinics will not be used for reproductive purposes, and will eventually be destroyed. I believe that it is ethical to use these extra embryos for research that could save lives when they are freely donated for that express purpose.” [FN111]
As the Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey explained, “morality . . . cannot control our decision.” [FN112] Furthermore, contrary to what opponents of human embryonic stem cell research may believe and argue, “the greater moral good will be served by employing these embryos as resources . . . toward discovering effective means for relieving millions of people of suffering and disability.” [FN113]

V. The Moral Status of Embryos [FN114]

“The major source of controversy surrounding embryonic stem cell research is the unresolved question of what moral status should be accorded to embryonic stem cells and to the embryos from which they are derived.” [FN115] “For those who think that human embryos have significant moral status the destruction of the embryo during the derivation process is a morally problematic act.” [FN116] For those who think that human embryos have absolutely no moral status, the destruction of the embryo during the derivation process is a morally acceptable act.
“[T]he profound disagreement that surrounds the moral status of the [human] embryo” [FN117] can be better understood through an examination of *439 the three commonly articulated views on their status. [FN118] Although many do not see eye to eye with respect to the moral status of these embryos, there does seem to be a national (as well as international) consensus that these three views can be “generally classified [as]: The ‘all position’, the ‘none position’, and the ‘gradualist position.”’ [FN119] Moreover, each of these positions raises its own distinct argument--those respectively being potentiality, personhood, and respect--in support of its viewpoint on the issue.

A. The “All” Position

Under the ‘all position,’ embryos are seen as “possess[ing] full human status from the moment of their conception or creation,” [FN120] and thus, have full moral status. [FN121] Those who hold this viewpoint treat embryos as human persons with the same moral status as living persons (i.e., adults and children) [FN122] because of their belief “that the embryo's potential to develop into a human being confers upon it full moral status as a person.” [FN123] Thus, “[r]egardless of the scientific potential, therapeutic research that does not benefit the embryo but harms it, would not be acceptable under this framework.” [FN124] Consequently, such opponents of human embryonic stem cell research view the destruction of any embryo in order to extract its stem cells to be a form of homicide.
However, “the potential benefit of this research to an existing human being takes precedence over the harm to a potential human being.” [FN125] The potential for revolutionary medical advances is the very reason why “[t]hose who support stem-cell research . . . argue that the health of existing human beings is more valuable in the moral calculus than the potential life that exists in a human embryo.” [FN126]
1. The ‘Potentiality’ Argument
Opponents of human embryonic stem cell research “who believe that fertilized eggs and blastocysts are new persons or human lives from fertilization, will not accept destroying embryos to obtain [embryonic stem cells] to save born lives, even if the embryos to be used will never be placed in a *440 uterus.” [FN127] In support of their position, they “maintain that the potential for embryonic stem cells to become thinking adult human beings outweighs the fact that they likely will never be transplanted into a uterus and allowed to grow.” [FN128]
Yes, “[t]he natural potential for human life among excess embryos created for IVF is present in these embryos, but it is highly improbable that it will ever be realized” [FN129] because “[u]nless implanted in a woman's uterus, such embryos have no potential of achieving viability.” [FN130] Besides, “[e]ven if transferred to the uterus, few embryos will implant. Nor is there a uterus available to accept every embryo” sitting in a fertility clinic freezer at this moment. [FN131] Additionally, even those embryos that do get implanted “must still face a myriad of development challenges before reaching a birthing point.” [FN132] Yet, most importantly, the “moral costs, and hence ultimately the immorality, of according the” preimplantation embryo full moral status is monumental and unbearable for society as a whole. [FN133]

B. The “None” Position

The ‘none position’ argues that, contrary to the all position, human embryos are merely clusters of cells, that “should be viewed like any other human tissue, e.g., liver cells, bone cells, etc.,” [FN134] and thus, “have no more moral status than any other human tissue.” [FN135] Therefore, “[u]nder this position, almost no ethical limitations to stem cell research exist,” because “[t]o kill a human being without justification is murder, but to destroy human tissue is innocent.” [FN136]
Those who hold this position base their view on the fact that “[t]he embryo satisfies none of the reasonable criteria for having moral status,” [FN137] the most important of which is the commonly argued concept of personhood. These supporters of human embryonic stem cell research assert that, besides lacking a body, a brain, a central nervous system, internal organs, and sensory organs, preimplantation embryos lack “certain essential human capacities such as consciousness and sentience.” [FN138] Basically, these five-day-old blastocysts “lack the characteristics of ‘personhood”’ [FN139] that *441 post-birth humans possess. In addition, noteworthy is the fact that “[w]hatever the characteristic chosen, all of them depend on some degree of development beyond undifferentiated cells that lack organs, a body, or a functioning neurological system.” [FN140]
1. The ‘Personhood’ Status of Human Embryos
The key to the controversy over stem cell research on human embryos, of course, “centers on whether human life in the form of an embryo . . . is also a human person.” [FN141] Opponents of human embryonic stem cell research see such preimplantation embryos--each of which is “scarcely a tenth of a millimeter across, about twice the diameter of a human hair” [FN142]--as persons, [FN143] and as a result, assign personhood status to them. “Their opposition is based on the proposition that the cluster of cells which make up the human embryo is actually a human being,” [FN144] and thus, “insist that human embryos are human beings.” [FN145]
However, these opponents have it all wrong.
In ordinary language we identify persons with human beings, but the notion of a person is not co-extensive with the notion of a human being. More specifically, whereas an individual counts as a human being if it belongs to the species Homo sapiens, it counts as a person not by virtue of species membership, but of the capacities it possesses. [FN146]
However, with respect to the potentiality argument in particular, the opposition's rationalization “overlooks the fact that rights and interests are ordinarily assigned on the basis of actual characteristics, not potential alone.” [FN147]
It is widely agreed that the capacities, or characteristics, required for personhood include consciousness, sentience, sense of identity, and rationality. [FN148] Accordingly, considering that human embryos are lacking in these *442 characteristics of personhood, they cannot be counted as persons and, thus, have no moral status. [FN149]
Moreover, to look at this from an American Jurisprudential position, there has been at least one state supreme court that has concluded that embryos are not “persons,” [FN150] and at least one United States federal court that has found that an ex utero human embryo lacks standing to bring suit because it was not a person within the meaning of the United States Constitution. [FN151] Therefore, even the courts of this country do not view these five-day-old blastocysts (which are “so unformed that [they] cannot be equated with a fetus, let alone with an adult” [FN152]) as persons.
“A consensus exists that such embryos are alive. They contain human DNA and are thus human life.” [FN153] Proponents of human embryonic stem cell research acknowledge that human embryos are genetically human however, according to the opposition's stance, “[s]imply because a collection of living cells has human DNA it is to be accorded all the rights and moral and legal status accorded to born individuals.” [FN154]
Similar to former President George W. Bush, many of these opponents believe that “like a snowflake, each of these embryos is unique, with the unique genetic potential of an individual human being.” [FN155] However,
[t]his is not a scientific finding. The humanity of an organism is not a description of its biological composition. No method of empirical science can determine the ‘humanity’ of a blastocyst of approximately two-hundred cells. Being a human being must entail something different from an organism simply having human DNA. [FN156]
Furthermore, such reasoning on the part of these opponents of human embryonic stem cell research shows that they are confusing the categories of biology and personhood and “a failure to properly separate human personhood from human biology,” [FN157] in the context of embryonic stem cell research, can prove to be devastating to this area of medical research that so many are depending on.
The fact of the matter is a five-day-old embryo is smaller than a pinprick and consists of a number of identical, undifferentiated cells containing human DNA. [FN158] And, a blastocyst being a “multi-celled entity with *443 particular DNA,” [FN159] does not mean that it is a fully-fledged human person. Thus, denying born persons safe and effective medical treatment out of an ethical concern for such an undeveloped entity with human DNA and developmental potential is immoral. [FN160]

C. The Gradualist Position

The third view, commonly referred to as the ‘gradualist position,’ rests in between the two aforementioned extremes with regard to the moral status of the human embryo. [FN161] Under this position, embryos do not have full moral status as human persons from the moment of conception, but that is not to say that they are denied of any moral status. [FN162] According to this view, the developing human embryo gradually acquires moral status, increasing “as the fertilized egg[s] become more human-like,” although such moral status is never equivalent to the moral status of a living child or adult. [FN163] Thus, based on this intermediate approach, the use of embryos for stem cell research is ethically justified given the potential benefits for such research. [FN164]
As the most widely held view, those who support the gradualist position believe that these pre-implantation embryos “deserve ‘respect’ even though they lack moral status as full human persons,” [FN165] because the embryo “deserves ‘respect’ greater than that accorded to human tissue but not the respect accorded to actual persons.” [FN166] Even the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (“NBAC”) stated in its report and recommendations on the ethical issues surrounding human embryonic stem cell research, “that although the human embryo . . . deserve[s] respect as [a] form of human life, the scientific and clinical benefits of stem cell research should not be foregone.” [FN167]
1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T
The nature of respect that those holding the gradualist position are demanding for the embryos is subject to a wide range of interpretations because a precise definition does not exist. [FN168] Even the NBAC did not give a specific definition of respect in its Executive Summary. Given this, it is difficult to argue contrary to the fact that “[s]uch respect is not absolute *444 and may be weighed against the benefits arising from proposed research.” [FN169] Ultimately, the respect of sick persons should be placed above the respect due the embryo.
The bottom line is that opponents of human embryonic stem cell research “appeal to respect for the life of embryos, while ignoring the lives of the born persons who would benefit from such treatments.” [FN170] So, “by respecting embryos, we [are] disregarding the interests of fully fledged persons whose serious medical conditions could be improved by the outcome of stem cell research.” [FN171]
The truth is that no one questions the fact that allowing an embryo to develop into a human person shows respect for human life. However, “embryonic stem cell research also shows respect for life because it values life in a way that simply discarding the embryo does not: Stem cell research seeks to improve and perhaps prolong life.” [FN172] Accordingly, “a person best respects life by using leftover . . . embryos to provide treatments that extend life or reduce pain and disability in born persons.” [FN173]

VI. Conclusion

“[T]he medical and scientific communities estimate that over 100 million Americans are suffering from conditions that may be alleviated or cured through embryonic stem cell research.” [FN174] However, “[o]pposition to embryonic stem cell research and therapy could block the promise of embryonic stem cell science for millions of persons.” [FN175] Furthermore, according to scientists, “over 3,000 people die each day in the United States from diseases that may one day be treatable with stem cell therapies.” [FN176] So, how could anyone deny that there is an urgent need to explore this promising new avenue for the successful treatment of these dreadful human diseases and disorders? [FN177]
In order to see and comprehend the compromise this paper reaches, it is key not to ignore a significant detail here--that is, the distinction among the three categories of embryos that are used for stem cell research: surplus embryos left over from IVF treatment, research embryos created by IVF, and embryos created via therapeutic cloning. While destroying excess IVF embryos to create new stem cells line is controversial, it truly does present less of an ethical dilemma than deriving cell lines from embryos created for the sole purpose of scientific and medical research (or even from aborted *445 fetuses). Although some opponents of embryonic stem cell research contend that there are “alternative sources for stem cells, none of the alternatives is sufficiently promising or sufficiently less ethically problematic to justify abandoning embryonic stem cell research on spare embryos.” [FN178]
“Embryonic stem cell research is morally permissible because, although embryos deserve respect, they are not morally equivalent to human beings.” [FN179] The fact of the matter is “that we aren't certain about when an embryo or fetus becomes human. [But,] [i]n the meantime, we are certain there is plenty of human suffering, and these people could benefit from discoveries made with embryonic stem cells.” [FN180] Furthermore, “[a]n embryo refers less to a specific being than it does to a ‘certain stage of development'--a stage that precedes that of fetus, which precedes birth.” [FN181]
Additionally, one thing that everyone must remember is that “stem cell research is performed on unimplanted embryos.” [FN182] As opposed to “implanted fetuses, the preimplantation embryo has no nervous system, no organs, and no differentiated cells . . . much less sentience or consciousness.” [FN183] “Moreover, the embryos used as a source for [embryonic stem cells] will otherwise be discarded, thus having a vanishingly small chance of ever producing those [such] characteristics.” [FN184] And, to those who argue respect--respect for the IVF embryo--well, “the most respectful way to end the life of an embryo conceived ex utero and with no prospect of proceeding to implantation is to extract from it [embryonic stem] cells that may prove highly beneficial to fully developed and very damaged human beings, with indisputably full moral status.” [FN185]
The bottom line is that five-day-old blastocysts are not people and must be utilized in an effort to help save or extend the life of a living, breathing, human person. Because to deprive millions of men, women, and children suffering from debilitating or fatal diseases the promise of a healthy tomorrow is far more immoral than using a spare embryo destined to be discarded.
[FN1]. J.D., Trinity Law School, 2009. First and foremost, I thank Robert E. Myers, for his continuous encouragement and helping me be my very best. Also, a special thanks to Trinity Law School and Professor Myron Steeves in particular, for his open-mindedness and guidance during this article's drafting. Finally, and as always, I thank my mother, Mina Rahmim, and brother, Dr. A. Homayoun Berjis, for their continuous and unwavering support throughout my law school career, as well as every other aspect of my life.

[FN2]. Lisa Shaw Roy, Roe and the New Frontier, 27 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 339, 363 (2003).

[FN3]. University of Michigan, Stem Cell Research, http:// www.umich.edu/stemcell/faq/#section3 (last visited April 3, 2009) [hereinafter UMICH FAQ].

[FN4]. Stephanie Watson, How Stem Cells Work, “HowStuffWorks”, http:// science.howstuffworks.com/cellular-microscopic-biology/stem-cell.htm (last visited April 3, 2009) [hereinafter HowStuffWorks].

[FN5]. National Institutes of Health Resource for Stem Cell Research, Stem Cells and Diseases, http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/health.asp (last visited on April 3, 2009) (stating current uses of “adult hemotopoietic stem cells”); but see Genron Visionary Therapeutics, Genron Receives FDA Clearance to Begin World's First Human Clinical Trial Embryonic Stem Cell-Based Therapy, http:// www.genron.com/media/pressview.aspx?id =1148 (last visited May 18, 2010) (stating possible cures and treatments of embryonic stem cells in nervous system).

[FN6]. National Institutes of Health Resource for Stem Cell Research, NIH Director's Statement on Research Using Stem Cells--12/02/98, http:// stemcells.nih.gov/policy/statements/120298.asp (last visited April 3, 2009).

[FN7]. William Gentry, Ph.D., The Morality of Using “Surplus” Human Embryos in Stem Cell Research, 19 ACAD. F., 1, P 2 (2001-02), http:// www.hsu.edu/default.aspx?id=3552 (last visited May 17, 2010) (abstract).

[FN8]. Maura Reynolds, Bush Vetoes Embryonic Stem Cell Funding, L.A. Times, June 21, 2007, http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jun/21/nation/na-stemcell21.

[FN9]. Natalie R. Walz, Abandoned Frozen Embryos and Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Should There Be a Connection?, 1 U. St. Thomas J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 122, 149 (2007) [hereinafter Walz] (quoting Ethics Committee, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Donating Spare Embryos for Embryonic Stem-cell Research, 78 Fertility & Sterility no. 5, 957 [sic] (2002)).

[FN10]. Referred to as research embryos, which are “human embryos created through IVF with eggs and sperm donated solely for research purposes.” National Bioethics Advisory Commission, Ethical Issues in Human Stem Cell Research: Executive Summary 2 (1999), http://bioethics.georgetown.edu/nbac/execsumm.pdf.

[FN11]. More specifically referred to as therapeutic cloning, here, human embryos are created asexually through somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), a technique in which the nucleus of an adult human cell is introduced into an egg that has had its nucleus removed. Id.

[FN12]. Gentry, supra note 7, at 3.

[FN13]. Elizabeth A. Holman, Charity Starts in the Womb: New Research Should Allow Healthy Embryos and Federally Funded Stem Cell Research to Coexist, 85 Wash. U. L. Rev. 161, 175 (2007).

[FN14]. Cell Medicine, Introduction to Stem Cells, http:// www.cellmedicine.com/introduction.asp (last visited: April 3, 2009).

[FN15]. Meredith Mullins, Stemming the Tide of Research and Constitutional Challenges: Embryonic Stem Cell Legislation, 85 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 227, 235 (2008) [hereinafter Mullins].

[FN16]. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, Human Stem Cells: Background Information on Various Types of Stem Cells, http:// www.religioustolerance.org/res_stem1.htm (last visited: April 5, 2009) [hereinafter Background Information].

[FN17]. UMICH FAQ, supra note 3.

[FN18]. Holman, supra note 13, at 162.

[FN19]. HowStuffWorks, supra note 4 (alteration in original omitted).

[FN20]. Mayo Clinic, Stem Cells: What They Are and What They Do, http:// www.mayoclinic.com/health/stem-cells/CA00081 (last visited April 6, 2009) [hereinafter Mayo Clinic].

[FN21]. National Institutes of Health Resource for Stem Cell Research, Stem Cell Basics, http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/ (last visited April 3, 2009).

[FN22]. Id.

[FN23]. John Bogatko, Stem Cell Research: A Comparative Legal Analysis, 6 Mich. St. U. J. Med. & L. 123, 126 (2002) [hereinafter Bogatko].

[FN24]. Id. at 123.

[FN25]. Mullins, supra note 15, at 229.

[FN26]. Id.

[FN27]. Id.

[FN28]. Huntington's Outreach Project for Education at Stanford, Stem Cell Research, Part 5: An Explanation of Stem Cells and their potential to treat HD, http://hopes.stanford.edu/rltdsci/stemcell/z5.html (last visited April 6, 2009) (see Table Z-4 for proposition) [hereinafter HOPES].

[FN29]. National Institutes of Health Resource for Stem Cell Research, Glossary, http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/glossary.asp (last visited April 3, 2009).

[FN30]. HOPES, supra note 28.

[FN31]. Mayo Clinic, supra note 20.

[FN32]. International Society for Stem Cell Research, Frequently Asked Questions, http://www.isscr.org/science/faq.htm (last visited April 6, 2009) [hereinafter ISSCR FAQ].

[FN33]. Walz, supra note 9, at 126.

[FN34]. ISSCR FAQ, supra note 32.

[FN35]. International Society for Stem Cell Research, Glossary of Stem Cell Related Terms, http://www.isscr.org/glossary/#Umbilical (last visited April 6, 2009) [hereinafter ISSCR Umbilical].

[FN36]. Cell Medicine, Types and Characteristics, http:// www.cellmedicine.com/types.asp (last visited April 3, 2009).

[FN37]. ISSCR Umbilical, supra note 35.

[FN38]. Id.

[FN39]. Mullins, supra note 15, at 231.

[FN40]. ISSCR FAQ, supra note 32.

[FN41]. ISSCR FAQ, supra note 32.

[FN42]. Mayo Clinic, supra note 20.

[FN43]. WebMD, Stem Cells Found in Amniotic Fluid, http:// www.webmd.com/news/20070109/stem-cells-found-in-amniotic-fluid (last visited April 12, 2009) [hereinafter WebMD].

[FN44]. Cell Medicine, Description of Stem Cells, http:// www.cellmedicine.com/description.asp (last visited April 3, 2009).

[FN45]. Mayo Clinic, supra note 20.

[FN46]. WebMD, supra note 43.

[FN47]. Mayo Clinic, supra note 20. This means that experiments require a pregnant woman's fluid, which may in turn be used to test for child abnormalities. More useful are the cells ability to help scientist identify stem cells. Id.

[FN48]. ISSCR FAQ, supra note 32.

[FN49]. Mayo Clinic, supra note 20.

[FN50]. Id.

[FN51]. ISSCR FAQ, supra note 32.

[FN52]. Mayo Clinic, supra note 20. No stem cell procedure is currently in general public use.

[FN53]. ISSCR FAQ, supra note 32.

[FN54]. Insoo Hyun et al., New Advances in iPS Cell Research Do Not Obviate the Need for Human Embryonic Stem Cells, 1 Cell Stem Cell 367 (2007).

[FN55]. National Institutes of Health Resource for Stem Cell Research, Chapter 1. The Stem Cell, http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/scireport/chapter1.asp (last visited April 4, 2009) [hereinafter NIH Chapter 1].

[FN56]. ISSCR FAQ, supra note 32.

[FN57]. NIH Chapter 1, supra note 55.

[FN58]. ISSCR FAQ, supra note 32.

[FN59]. Mullins, supra note 15, at 231.

[FN60]. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, Human Stem Cell Research: All Viewpoints, http://www.religioustolerance.org/resstemover.htm (last visited April 5, 2009) [hereinafter Overview].

[FN61]. Mullins, supra note 15, at 231.

[FN62]. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, Human Stem Cell Research: All Viewpoints, http://www.religioustolerance.org/res_stem.htm (last visited April 12, 2009) [hereinafter All Viewpoints].

[FN63]. Gentry, supra note 7, at 3, P 4.

[FN64]. Mullins, supra note 15, at 231.

[FN65]. Christopher Thomas Scott, Stem Cell Now: From the Experiment That Shook the World to the New Politics of Life 89 (2006). [hereinafter Scott]

[FN66]. Mullins, supra note 15, at 231.

[FN67]. California Institute for Regenerative Medicine The Stem Cell Agency, Questions, http://www.cirm.ca.gov/about/questions.asp, (last visited April 5, 2009) [hereinafter CIRM Questions].

[FN68]. ISSCR FAQ, supra note 32.

[FN69]. NIH Chapter 1, supra note 55.

[FN70]. Bryn E. Floyd, Regulation of Stem Cell Research: A Recommendation that the United States Adopt the Australian Approach, 13 Pac. Rim. L. & Pol'y J. 31, 35 (2004).

[FN71]. HowStuffWorks, supra note 4.

[FN72]. Mayo Clinic, supra note 20.

[FN73]. All Viewpoints, supra note 62.

[FN74]. Bogatko, supra note 23, at 127.

[FN75]. International Society for Stem Cell Research, Glossary, http:// www.isscr.org/public/glossary.htminner (last visited April 6, 2009).

[FN76]. Mullins, supra note 15, at 230.

[FN77]. Kathy L. Hudson, Joan Scott, & Ruth Faden, Values in Conflict: Public Attitudes on Embryonic Stem Cell Research 17 (2005), available at http://www.dnapolicy.org/images/reportpdfs/2005ValuesInConflict.pdf.

[FN78]. UMICH FAQ, supra note 3.

[FN79]. Floyd, supra note 70, at 37.

[FN80]. Id. at 31.

[FN81]. Health, Assisted Reproductive Technology, http:// www.health.com/health/library/mdp/0,,sta123331,00.html (last visited April 5, 2009).

[FN82]. MedicineNet, Health and Medical Information Produced by Doctors, http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=7298 (last visited April 3, 2009).

[FN83]. American Pregnancy Association, Infertility: In Vitro Fertilization, http://www.americanpregnancy.org/infertility/ivf.html (last visited April 3, 2009).

[FN84]. Shared Journey, The IVF Process: Embryo Transfer, http:// www.sharedjourney.com/define/transfer.html (last visited April 12, 2009).

[FN85]. Id.

[FN86]. Advanced Fertility Clinic of Chicago, Blastocyst Culture and Day 5 Embryo Transfer for IVF, In Vitro Fertilization, http:// www.advancedfertility.com/blastocy.htm (last visited on April 3, 2009).

[FN87]. UCSF Center for Reproductive Health, Blastocyst Culturing, http:// www.ucsfivf.org/ucsf-ivf2.htm#blastocyst (last visited April 3, 2009).

[FN88]. Johns Hopkins University, Donated Embryos Could Result In More Than 2,000 New Embryonic Stem Cell Lines, Science Daily, June 21, 2007, available at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070620154934.htm (last visited April 3, 2009) [hereinafter Donated Embryos].

[FN89]. FertilityJourney.com, Understanding In-Vitro Fertilization, http:// www.fertilityjourney.com/Authfiles/Images/588_196922.pdf (last visited April 3, 2009).

[FN90]. Medical News Today, Los Angeles Times Examines Issues Surrounding Leftover Embryos, Oct. 8, 2008, http:// www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/124638.php (last visited April 5, 2009) [hereinafter Medical News Today].

[FN91]. Stem Cells at the National Academies, Stem Cell Basics - Types of Stem Cells, http://dels.nas.edu/bls/stemcells/types-of-stem-cells.shtml #sources (last visited April 12, 2009) [hereinafter National Academies].

[FN92]. Overview, supra note 60.

[FN93]. National Academies, supra note 91.

[FN94]. Walz, supra note 9, at 126.

[FN95]. CIRM Questions, supra note 67.

[FN96]. Walz, supra note 9, at 126.

[FN97]. CIRM Questions, supra note 67 (Furthermore, “[p]eople who donate their left over embryos for research go through an extensive consenting process to ensure that they understand embryonic stem cell research. Under... national...regulations, no human embryonic stem cell lines should be created without explicit consent from the couple.”).

[FN98]. Floyd, supra note 70, at 40.

[FN99]. Donated Embryos, supra note 88.

[FN100]. American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Bush Stem Cell Funding Policy Denies Fertility Patients the Opportunity to Donate Unneeded Embryos to Advance Medical Research, http:// www.asrm.org/Media/Press/stemcellpolicydenyingpatients06-07.html (last visited April 5, 2009).

[FN101]. Medical News Today, supra note 90.

[FN102]. Id.

[FN103]. Id.

[FN104]. Floyd, supra note 70, at 31.

[FN105]. CIRM Questions, supra note 68.

[FN106]. Gentry, supra note 7, at 3, P 6.

[FN107]. Scott, supra note 65, at 123 (quoting Pulitzer-prize winning zoologist, E. O. Wilson, who went on to write that this newly fertilized egg “is a set of instructions set adrift into the cavity of the womb.”).

[FN108]. Floyd, supra note 70, at 38.

[FN109]. UMICH FAQ, supra note 3, at 377.

[FN110]. Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Thinking Points, Vol. 1, No. 5, 110th Cong. 8 (2007) (prepared by Rep. McCotter, Chair, Republican House Policy Comm.), available at http:// policy.house.gov/pdf/EmbryonicStemCellResearch.pdf [hereinafter Thinking Points].

[FN111]. A Candid World, Barack Obama on Science: All the Right Answers, September 2, 2008, http://www.acandidworld.net/2008/09/02/barack-obama-on-science-all-the-right-answers/ (last visited April 12, 2009).

[FN112]. Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 850 (1992).

[FN113]. Gentry, supra note 7, at 15, P 5.

[FN114]. Although the issue of the moral status of human embryos can be approached from a number of perspectives, including religious ones, this paper focuses on the problem less “parochially.”

[FN115]. Floyd, supra note 70, at 38.

[FN116]. Natasha Hammond & Soren Holm, Resolving the “Egg Supply Problem” in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Derivation Through Technical Means - A Legal and Ethical Analysis, 27 Med. & L. 167, 170 (2008).

[FN117]. John A. Robertson, Embryo Culture and the “Culture of Life”: Constitutional Issues in the Embryonic Stem Cell Debate, 2006 U. Chi. Legal F. 1, 18 [hereinafter Embryo Culture].

[FN118]. Kristina Hug, Therapeutic Perspectives of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Versus the Moral Status of a Human Embryo - Does One Have to Be Compromised for the Other?, Medica (Kaunas) 2006, 42(2): 107, 108. [hereinafter Hug]

[FN119]. D F-C Tsai, Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Debates: A Confucian Argument, J. Med. Ethics 2005, 31: 635, 635.

[FN120]. Id.

[FN121]. Hug, supra note 118, at 108.

[FN122]. Heather Johnson Kukla, Embryonic Stem Cell Research: An Ethical Justification, 90 Geo. L.J. 503, 517 (2002). [hereinafter Kukla]

[FN123]. John A. Robertson, Ethics and Policy in Embryonic Stem Cell Research, 9 Kennedy Inst. Ethics J. 109, 116 (1999).

[FN124]. Scott, supra note 65, at 127.

[FN125]. Holman, supra note 13, at 162. Even opponents admit that it is “[t]rue, no one would argue a human embryo of five days possesses the same capacity to experience pain as a human adult of fifty years.” Thinking Points, supra note 110, at 3.

[FN126]. Jamie Rasmussen, The Not So Slippery Slope: Why the Regulation of Therapeutic Cloning Should Be Left to the States, 12 Mich. St. U. J. Med. & L. 387, 405 (2008).

[FN127]. Embryo Culture, supra note 117, at 19.

[FN128]. Susan Margrave, Stem-Cell Research Promising; Arguments Surrounding It Plentiful, http://www.hsu.edu/content.aspx?id=1705 (last visited April 12, 2009).

[FN129]. Floyd, supra note 70, at 40.

[FN130]. Dana Remus Irwin, Freedom of Thought: The First Amendment and the Scientific Method, 2005 Wis L. Rev.. 1479, 1526-27 (2005).

[FN131]. Embryo Culture, supra note 117, at 23.

[FN132]. Richard W. Momeyer, Embryos, Stem Cells, Morality and Public Policy: Difficult Connections, 31 Cap. U. L. Rev. 93, 98 (2003). [hereinafter Momeyer]

[FN133]. Id.

[FN134]. Bogatko, supra note 23, at 131.

[FN135]. Sylvia Kim, Embryonic Stem Cell Research Controversy: Focus on the Private Sector and International Sphere, 14 Hastings Women's L.J. 89, 92 (2003).

[FN136]. Holman, supra note 13, at 173.

[FN137]. Momeyer, supra note 132, at 94.

[FN138]. Kim, supra note 135, at 92.

[FN139]. Tsai, supra note 119, at 636.

[FN140]. Embryo Culture, supra note 117, at 21.

[FN141]. All Viewpoints, supra note 63.

[FN142]. Scott, supra note 65, at 2.

[FN143]. Although there is a strong debate as to the definition of a person, Webster's Dictionary defines ‘person’ as, “a human being, esp. as distinguished from a thing or lower animal; individual man, woman or child.” Webster's New World College Dictionary 1074 (4th ed. 2008).

[FN144]. Gentry, supra note 7, at 4, P 1.

[FN145]. Id. at 4, P 2.

[FN146]. Lisa Bortolotti & John Harris, Stem Cell Research, Personhood and Sentience, 10 Reprod. Biomed. Online 68, 69 (2005).

[FN147]. Embryo Culture, supra note 117, at 21.

[FN148]. Id. at 21. Even English philosopher John Locke described a person as “a thinking, intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, that can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places.” John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding 220 (A.D. Woosley ed., World 1964) (1690).

[FN149]. Tsai, supra note 119, at 636.

[FN150]. Davis v. Davis, 842 S.W.2d 588, 595 (Tenn. 1992).

[FN151]. Doe v. Shalala, 862 F. Supp. 1421 (D. Md. 1994).

[FN152]. Gentry, supra note 7, at 7, P 4.

[FN153]. All Viewpoints, supra note 62.

[FN154]. Embryo Culture, supra note 117, at 19.

[FN155]. Katheryn D. Katz, Snowflake Adoptions and Orphan Embryos: The Legal Implications of Embryo Donation, 18 Wis. Women's L.J. 179, 196 (2003) (quoting Text of President Bush's Speech, Wash. Post, Aug. 10, 2001, at A12).

[FN156]. Gentry, supra note 7, at 4.

[FN157]. Vincent J. Samar, Abortion: The Persistent Debate and Its Implications for Stem-Cell Research, 11 J. L. & Fam. Stud. 133, 134 (2008).

[FN158]. Background Information, supra note 5.

[FN159]. Embryo Culture, supra note 117, at 20.

[FN160]. See id. at 23.

[FN161]. Kim, supra note 135, at 92.

[FN162]. Tsai, supra note 119, at 636.

[FN163]. Hug, supra note 118, at 109.

[FN164]. Tsai, supra note 119, at 636.

[FN165]. Kim, supra note 135, at 92.

[FN166]. Davis, 842 S.W.2d at 596 (citing Report of the Ethics Committee, 53 J. Am. Fertility Soc'y 6, at 34S-35S (1990)).

[FN167]. National Bioethics Advisory Commission, supra note 10, at 11.

[FN168]. Kim, supra note 135, at 92.

[FN169]. Tsai, supra note 119, at 636.

[FN170]. Embryo Culture, supra note 117, at 13.

[FN171]. Bortolotti, supra note 146, at 75.

[FN172]. Kukla, supra note 122, at 505.

[FN173]. Embryo Culture, supra note 117, at 4-5.

[FN174]. Kim, supra note 135, at 93-94.

[FN175]. Embryo Culture, supra note 117, at 2.

[FN176]. Mullins, supra note 15, at 227.

[FN177]. Gentry, supra note 7, at 2.

[FN178]. Kukla, supra note 122, at 505.

[FN179]. Jonathan D. Moreno & Sam Berger, Taking Stem Cells Seriously, Am. J. Bioethics 2006, 6(5): 6, 7.

[FN180]. Scott, supra note 65, at 2.

[FN181]. Holman, supra note 13, at 162 (quoting President's Council on Bioethics, Monitoring Stem Cell Research 15 (pre-publication ed. 2004)).

[FN182]. Irwin, supra note 130, at 1526-27.

[FN183]. Embryo Culture, supra note 117, at 21.

[FN184]. Id. at 20.

[FN185]. Momeyer, supra note 132, at 99.

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