Embryo Research

What do you think of when you hear the word embryo? You might say, something to do with sexual reproduction. Well, the definition of an embryo is, ‘An organism in the early stages of development from a fertilized egg’[1]. Some people will argue that it is not yet a life; some may say it is, but no matter what they argue, everyone knows that it has the potential to become a human life. Should that not be enough to ban medical research on human embryos’? Apparently not. In this essay, you will read about why human embryos’ should not be tested on for medical reasons and if they are to be, when it should happen.

Australian law does not classify a human embryo as a life. Professor Ian Wilmut claims, “… it is simply incorrect to equate a six-day-old embryo - a cluster of cells barely discernible to the naked eye - with a baby.”[2] To tell you the truth, I agree. What you have to assume though, is that this embryo will go on to develop into a human life. It is not fair to take this potential life and research on it. For all we know, it could grow to become a doctor or an incredible author. Even if it develops into your average Joe, it still deserves that chance at life.

Although some may argue that the benefits reaped by medical research on human embryos’ far out weigh the negatives caused by it. It could possibly help create a cure or treat people suffering from diabetes or liver damage.i I think that’s great, but why do potential lives have to be ended in order for these people to be treated? Lets have a close look at these diseases, what do you notice? They are both mainly caused by bad lifestyles, such as poor diet, little exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption. Don’t get me wrong, there are people in the world who live very healthy lives and still contract these diseases, but the majority are brought on by choice. Now why on earth should a potential life be ended to treat these people?

Than again, in Victoria, it is stated by law in the Infertility Treatment Act of 1995 that if an embryos’ parents cannot be contacted after 5 years that it must be destroyed.ii It should then, and only then, be handed over to scientists for medical research. As I said before, the fact that research on human embryos’ could result in new ways for treating some diseases is great, but that should not give scientists the right to end a potential life to experiment on it. But when an embryo is destined to be destroyed, and its potential for life has been taken away, it may as well be put to use in helping to create a cure for some diseases.

At the end of the day, you have to remember that while human embryos’ may not be classified as a life by Australian law, it has the potential to become a life, and that is why medical research on them is wrong. When that potential of life has been taken away, then I believe that research is justified, only because the embryo is going to be destroyed anyway. We, as human beings, have no right to deny what can potentially become a life its chance at that development. How would you like it if you were never created because someone wanted to research on your embryo?


Delbridge, A. & Bernard, J.R.L. 1988, The Macquarie Concise Dictionary, 2nd edn, Macquarie Library, Australia.

Unknown, 1999, “Making laws about making people”, The Age.

[1] A. Delbridge & J.R.L Bernard, The Macquarie Concise Dictionary, Macquarie Library, 1988, p.306.

[2] Unknown, Making Laws about making people, The Age, 30/09/99.

i Ibid.

ii Ibid.