Wishful Thinking Will Not Obviate Embryo Use

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Upon hearing of purported nonembryo sources of human pluripotent stem cells, we need to ask not only whether the proposed sources yield such cells, but whether it is true as claimed that it would be morally better to shift to the purported alternatives. I argue that it would not be morally better. When we consider the morality of each proposal in turn, we find as to several that what defends them also defends the use of surplus embryos and clones in general. That leaves no reason to abandon the general case for the special case of compromised life forms. Another of the proposals is morally indefensible. Still other proposed techniques would themselves use or risk using embryos, not to mention that they may fail to produce pluripotent cells of sufficient quality. We shall not achieve a moral gain by adopting any of these proposals in lieu of using donated embryos barred from the womb by donor instructions.

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