Today we are continuing our series of posts on the ethics of Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR). One of the arguments raised in favor of using leftover embryos in fertility clinics for research is that they are going to die anyway. So why not put them to good use saving lives? Scott Klusendorff in his interview with Crossway Publishers offers the following interesting thought experiment to help us see what is wrong with this argument.
There are moral considerations that call into question “they’re going to die anyway” argument. Suppose you oversee a Cambodian orphanage with 200 toddlers that are abandoned. The facility cannot care for them any longer. Water levels are critically low and food supplies are exhausted. It’s only a matter of time before starvation and disease set in. A scientist has offered to take the toddlers off your hands and use them for grisly medical research designed to cure cancer. He confronts you with the hard facts: Many of these children will die soon and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it, so why let all those organs go to waste? Nonetheless, you refuse. You could never, even for a moment, consider turning the kids over to the scientist on grounds that “these kids are going to die anyway so let’s put them to good use.” True, given your impoverished circumstances, you are powerless to save them, but you would never be complicit in actively killing vulnerable human beings, which is what ESCR does.