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Advance directives to protect embryos?
  1. K Devolder
  1. Correspondence to:
 K Devolder
 Centre for Environmental Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium;

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The continuing debate about the use of human embryonic stem cell research

There is a growing consensus among scientists worldwide that embryonic stem (HES) cell research will lead to the development of therapies for common diseases or conditions that affect millions of people, including neurological disease or injury, diabetes, and myocardial infarction. HES cells are also valuable tools in understanding early human developmental processes, cell division and differentiation mechanisms, drug discovery and toxicity testing, and for developing models of human diseases. At the same time many individuals profess to be outraged by the prospect of using human embryos for research and therapeutic purposes and some countries or states have declared such research to be unethical and have banned it. Many people also think it would be immoral to benefit from what they consider to be evil.

Obviously all those who think HES cell research is immoral will wish to ensure not only that no HES cell therapies are developed but that they will not openly or inadvertently benefit from such therapies when they can avoid it. I have accordingly designed the following Advance Directive and here offer it as a service to all those offended by therapeutic and research use of human embryos.

The design of this advance directive to protect embryos highlights an important point that is often overlooked, namely that those who object to HES cell research as unethical and block such research are committed in consistency to the rejection of any benefits or therapies, which may flow from such research. It is questionable whether these people will fully accept this consequence of opposition to HES cell research, and whether this rejection of HES cell research will be practically possible. (Once …

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