J Med Ethics 31:366-370 doi:10.1136/jme.2004.008599
  • Law, ethics, and medicine

Creating and sacrificing embryos for stem cells

  1. K Devolder
  1. Correspondence to:
 K Devolder
 Centre for Environmental Philosophy and Bioethics, Ghent University, Belgium;
  • Received 2 March 2004
  • Accepted 16 June 2004
  • Revised 5 April 2004


The compromise position that accepts the use and derivation of stem cells from spare in vitro fertilisation embryos but opposes the creation of embryos for these purposes is a very weak ethical position. This paper argues that whatever the basis is on which defenders of this viewpoint accord intrinsic value to the embryo, once they accept the creation and sacrifice of embryos to benefit infertile people with a child-wish, they do not have a sound moral argument to condemn the creation and sacrifice of embryos to benefit ill and injured people.