Embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning: Scientific, ethical and legal perspectives

Leora Dahan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At the turn of the millennium, some of the most controversial topics being internationally debated were the issues of embryonic stem cell research and cloning. Stem cell research involves the exploration of the medical possibilities latent in primary, relatively undifferentiated cells. Such research, however, is not fully supported by the entire scientific community or by all of the general public due to the ethically controversial practices involved in such research. Generally, stem cell research requires the destruction of an embryo, which is perceived by some as the destruction of human life, or at least the destruction of an entity bearing the potential to evolve into human life. Thus, despite its vast potential, stem cell research has been condemned by some as disrespectful of the value of human life, and even as murder. Similarly, therapeutic cloning techniques have been attacked as unnatural and unethical, especially due to their close affiliation with reproductive cloning. The wide variety of opinions held throughout the globe has lead to a diverse spectrum of legal arrangements. Various governments have chosen to regulate this matter in various ways. Some have explicitly addressed the matter in primary legislation, while others have chosen more indirect ways of “resolving” the situation. Still others have chosen to “ignore” the problem by neglecting to establish a clear legal policy. This article reviews the various ethical and legal perspectives held with regard to these controversial fields and suggests the preferability of one particular ethical tendency and one particular method of regulation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)543-595
Number of pages53
JournalIsrael Law Review
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation for supporting this research. We also thank CIMMYT and Seed Co Ltd for providing maize germplasm for the study. Use of Rattray Arnold Research Station (Seed Co Ltd) and Cedara (KwaZulu-Natal pepartment of Agriculture, RSA) research facilities is also sincerely acknowledged.


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