Bioethicists Deplore Relaxation of 14 Day Limit for Human Embryo Research | Catholic National Register
“Experimenting on human embryos up to 14 days old – extremely vulnerable human lives – is already a grave injustice and a form of exploitation,” says a British scientist.
Bioethicists on Thursday criticized the relaxation of a 14-day limit for human embryo experimentation.
In a June 3 statement, the Anscombe Bioethics Center in Oxford, England lamented the decision of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) to lift the limit on experiments on lab-grown embryos.
“Once the 14-day rule fell, the only real limit, it seems, to experimentation would be the scientific limit as to how long embryonic or fetal humans can be kept outside the womb. – or, in fact, in an artificial uterus (ectogenesis), ”said the director of the center, David Albert Jones.
The ISSRC, an independent nonprofit based in Skokie, Ill., Announced on May 26 that it was relaxing the decades-old rule due to rapid advances in the field.
Jones said the ISCR’s “Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation” do not place any time limits on the cultivation of human embryos.
“These new proposals constitute a rule on embryonic experimentation which is, in fact, a changing goal,” he wrote.
“Considering that abortion is legal for up to 24 weeks in Britain, or until birth for babies with disabilities, the question is what principle would protect unborn children from experimentation until, or at? beyond, these same limits. “
The 2016 ISCR guidelines prohibited experiments on human embryos “beyond 14 days or formation of the primitive sequence, whichever occurs first.”
The new guidelines call on “national academies of sciences, academic societies, funders and regulators to conduct public conversations on the scientific importance as well as societal and ethical issues raised by the authorization” of experiments at- beyond 14 days.
“If broad public support is obtained within a jurisdiction, and if local policies and regulations allow it, a specialized scientific and ethical oversight process could determine whether the scientific objectives require and justify the time spent in cultivation beyond that. of 14 days, ensuring that only a minimum number of embryos are used to achieve research objectives ”, specify the guidelines.
Jones said when the UK legalized experiments on human embryos in 1990, he promised they would be subject to strict conditions. But he noted that the guarantees had gradually disappeared.
“Nevertheless, to this day, the 14-day rule of experimentation has survived, but not on principle, but simply because until recently scientists had not been able to grow a human embryo for more than 13 days.” , did he declare.
“Indeed, the rule was like a speed limit that no car could physically reach. It was an empty ban, banning the impossible and allowing experimentation on human embryos at every stage where it was. physically possible.
He continued, “Now that scientists have finally reached that limit – which means that the 14-day rule has in fact become a real ban and could prevent some human embryos from being experimented with – supporters of experimentation on them. embryos request that this limit be extended. . ”
“Four years ago in the UK, some started calling for the 14-day rule to be extended to 28 days. Yet that would only be lip service to the need for ethical restrictions. Would anyone believe that the 28 day rule would remain in place if the 14 day rule were to be changed to accommodate new technological developments? ”
Jones concluded: “The further the boundaries of research are pushed, the more scientists will be faced with research topics that seem more human.
“Experimenting with human embryos that are up to 14 days old – extremely vulnerable human lives – is already a grave injustice and a form of exploitation.
“Extending the 14-day rule would make more embryos vulnerable to exploitation and remove one of the few remaining limits to injustices against embryonic humans.”