Metaphysical and Moral Status of Cryopreserved Embryos

The Linacre Quarterly 79 (3):304-315 (2012)
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Those who oppose human embryonic stem cell research argue for a clear position on the metaphysical and moral status of human embryos. This position does not differ whether the embryo is present inside its mother’s reproductive tract or in a cryopreservation tank. It is worth examining, however, whether an embryo in “suspended animation” has the same status as one actively developing in utero. I will explore this question from the perspective of Thomas Aquinas’s metaphysical account of human nature. I conclude that a cryopreserved human embryo counts, both metaphysically and morally, as a person; and thus the utilization of such embryos for inherently destructive research purposes is impermissible.
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