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The Moral Dispute on Human Embryonic Research and The Beginning of Human Life

  • Korean Journal of Medical Ethics
  • Abbr : 의료윤리
  • 2005, 8(1), pp.1-10
  • Publisher : The Korean Society For Medical Ethics
  • Research Area : Medicine and Pharmacy > General Medicine
  • Published : June 30, 2005

최경석 ORD ID 1

1이화여자대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

The main moral dispute on human embryonic research lies in the status of embryo. Embryo means actually pre-embryo here. Proponents for the research argue that an pre-embryo is not an human being because it does not have any personality. But I argue that this argument is too weak to fall down because it must be applied to a new-born baby. But we consider a new-born baby as an human being. A strong argument for the research is to claim that a human life begins at the formation of primitive streak because this streak indicates the establishment of an individual identity. Proponents for the research based on this argument claims that there is no person to hold any rights because there is no entity to establish any individual identity. They consider this argument to fall down the view that human life starts at the conception. But I argue that the above argument only shows when an individual identity is established, rather than when an human life starts. The reasons are as follows. First, biological identity, that is, genetic identity as an human species is formed in zygote at the conception. Second, the potentiality to grown up into an adult is developed from the conception while the same genetic identity is kept. The reason we think that human life is respected lies in the potentiality. The numbers of individuals is not important in considering this potentiality. Therefore, despites discontinuity in individual identity we have to think that human life begins at zygote from which genetic identity and potentiality to build up an individual or individuals are continuously kept. The same view can be applied to cloned human embryo through implanting the nuclear of a somatic cell. So, the research of cloned human embryo is not morally justified. The current Korean law to allow this research should be reconsidered.

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