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Abstract

The debate about whether to federally fund human embryonic stem cell research is at root a controversy about the legal status that should be accorded the human embryo. The undisputed, scientifically verifiable facts agreed to by even the most liberal proponents of human embryonic stem cell research are that (1) the embryo is living and genetically unique; (2) the embryo is human and capable of developing into an adult; and (3) derivation of human stem cells from embryos terminates them. Although philosophical and political disagreement subsequently arises about whether the embryo should be deemed a juridical person, quasi-person, or non-person, we have not adequately addressed the significance of these three undisputed facts for regulating embryonic stem cell research.

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