The Science and Ethics of
Stem Cell Research
Shades of Gray
Lesson 4
Who Are We?
Selected Stakeholders
Anne Graham Lotz
Mitt Romney
Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff
Mary Tyler Moore
Ruben Diaz
Ann Coulter
Gamal Serour
Leon Kass
Michael J Fox
Pope Benedict XVI
Alta Charo
Ronald M. Green
Barb Edwards
and family
Christopher Reeve
Orrin Hatch
Swami B.V. Tripurari
Judie Brown
David A. Prentice
Alfred Mann
William Haseltine
John Kerry
Daniel Perry
C. Ben Mitchell
Nancy Reagan
Photos not available:
Heather Hanson
Joanne C. Sizoo
Barak Obama
Central Ethical Questions about the
Moral Status of the Embryo
 How should we treat the embryo? What rights
does it have? What responsibilities do we
have towards it?
 How do we balance our attitudes towards the
embryo with our responsibilities to help
 At what point in development does an embryo
possess 'personhood' or moral worth?
Based on what characteristics or
Moral Status of the Embryo
Lines of Demarcation
Conception - Catholicism (also Protestant denominations
Lutheranism, Southern Baptism) - life is sacred from the
moment of conception, no matter where it exists (i.e., Petri
dish or fallopian tube).
Embryo Implantation - Some scientists, theorists,
theologians and others refer to the “pre-embryo” prior to
uterine implantation, and regard implantation as morally
Primitive streak - At ~14 days when neural development
begins, a sentient (possibly capable of feeling pain) and
thus morally significant being exists.
Some Religious Viewpoints
 Presbyterian: approves SCR when the goals
are compelling and unreachable by other
 Orthodox Judaism: An isolated fertilized egg
does not enjoy the full status of personhood.
 Reform Judaism adds that it
would be unethical to NOT
pursue promising medical
Additional Religious Viewpoints
 Islam: After the blastocyst stage a human
being exists; at 120 days ensoulment.
Endorses regulated SCR as long as the
potential for benefit is tangible.
 Mormon: Doctrine holds that each person
lived as a spirit child of God prior to being
born and receiving a physical body on Earth;
life on earth begins when the spirit and body
are united.
Note to Teachers
…about the next slide
If your students are having a difficult time understanding the U.S. political
spectrum and are not familiar with words like “conservative” and “liberal”,
the next slide (though overly simplified) may be helpful.
For students who have some familiarity with the political vocabulary,
however, it is NOT recommended that they be instructed in the terminology
before the Four Corners Activity. Students often work out amongst
themselves the meaning of the words, and have a better appreciation for
the complexity involved.
Though a useful tool in some cases, the slide serves to further stereotype
stakeholder positions. The object of this lesson is to reinforce the idea that
there are many ‘shades of gray’ in considering the perspectives on stem cell
A Simplified View of the
American Political Spectrum