Can we consider embryos solely as biological material?
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CitationBarış, M. ve Uslu, B. (2021). Can we consider embryos solely as biological material?. The International Congress of Future Medical Pioneers 2021 içinde (1-10.ss.). Online: Scholars' Press.
Traditionally, bioethical discussions about embryo research tend to resort to moral status arguments. Bioethicists arguing in favor of embryo research who embrace what we call the “none-approach” use psychological or physiological arguments to claim that embryos do not have any moral status. On the other hand, major participants in the debate arguing against embryo research usually adopt what we call the “all-approach,” using development-based and metaphysical moral arguments to defend the claim that embryos have a moral status. This paper firstly presents these moral approaches briefly, maintaining that neither of the approaches resorting to the concept of “moral status” is satisfactory in practice, especially regarding interventions in preimplantation-stage embryos in the laboratory. While embracing and respecting great moral diversity of beliefs about the embryo, this paper suggests that there should be a practice-focused and less counter-intuitive moral stance somewhere in between “embryos are complete humans who have full moral status” and “embryos are nothing but accumulations of cells.” Secondly, we will argue that although embryos are not entitled to full moral status as much as a “paradigm human” is, they are still worthy of moral respect and cannot be considered solely as biological material because (i) they have inherent potential to become “one of us”; (ii) they are human organisms in a biological sense, and (iii) they will be considered as patients in the near future, rather than only as biological research entities, at a time when Nobel-winning CRISPR/Cas9-based germline genetic intervention is waiting at the doors of reproductive clinics. Finally, we will maintain that the statement “embryos are worthy of moral respect” does not predicate anything about the post-implantation stage, especially regarding abortion. All it contends is that because embryos are worthy of moral respect and will soon be considered patients who are subjected to genetic intervention in a petri dish, they should be handled by a physician/a specialist trained in microsurgery to deal with embryos: a clinical embryologist.