How Would Natural Law Apply to Embryo Research?
Do you agree with Embryo Research?
The theory of Natural Law, is to find the most natural and rational solution to an ethical dilemma. Followers of this philosophy would therefore disagree with embryo research, Natural because they see it as unnatural. The answer, however, is not as simple as that because there are many different more sides sides to the argument for and and against.
The first issue that comes into light is the right to a child; if a couple cannot conceive by the natural process of sexual reproduction it is possible for technology to help in conception. But should there be limits to how much help it can give? For those who wish to have a child then it is likely that they would not mind to what extent technology is used to help them achieve this because they feel that they have a right to a child. Some religions, however, say that a child is a gift from God and should not be considered as a right. God gives you the ability to have a child, so if you don’t have that ability then God does no want you to conceive because it is part of his plan.
Although Natural Law although would agree, it is applied in a different way. One of the options for couples unable to conceive is IVF, where the embryo is artificially fertilised by the husband’s or a donor’s sperm and then implanted into the womb. Natural Law would say that this procedure is unnatural because it involves technology to perform what should be a natural process. They can support their argument further because of the advancement of technology in recent years, which has given us the ability to choose the gender of the child. This is one of the most controversial parts of embryo research. Some people may argue that the degree of research that has already gone into it has ended up with big political, religious, social, and moral problems to deal with because it has got to the stage where a couple can start designing their child as if it were an item you buy in the shop rather than a living being.
Despite this, IVF is legal and used frequently today. First the embryo must be checked to see if it has any genetic abnormalities; this may seem sensible because the parents would want a healthy child, not one with learning difficulties or other disabilities. Natural Law would still say this is unnatural because when you conceive a child naturally, you would not have the choice of whether the child had and disabilities or not. They may argue that choosing not to have a disabled child is as much saying that all the disabled children should not exist today because if the parents of those children had the choice to have a disabled child or not, they would the latter; however if this was told to the parents now, they would be horrified because they love their children dearly and would feel almost ashamed that that could have been the case. This also relates back to designer babies; in some cases having a designer baby is completely aesthetical, as in which hair colour they would have, which may seem trivial but becomes more serious if every parent chose the same sort of child, taking away natural variation, which in the future could lead to the lack of immunities in the human race, such is the case with cloning. This is one of the reasons why Natural Law finds genetic engineering unacceptable, because it could eventually lead to our demise.
On the other hand, if a designer a child could make a suitable donor for an elder sibling who is dying, some people who support pro-life might agree to it because it saves a life. hFrom the perspective of Kant, however, this would be seen as treating the child as a means to an end. Natural Law might argue that donating blood, bone marrow, etc to a dying person is unnatural in itself because it is using technology. For the same reasons, Natural Law is likely to be against therapeutic cloning, which is the cloning of certain organs of a person in case the currents organs start to fail at some point. However, they might not oppose this as much because it does not involve the creation of another being, just the creation of ‘spare parts’ for an already existing person.
Though embryo research is controversial, it also has another purpose other than giving the ability to infertile couples to conceive. The research of embryos along with stems cells also provides valuable information that could bring about cures diseases; though this is very important it still involves the process ofextracting eggs/embryos from women, which is considered unnatural and taking away the possibility of life.