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What Is Embryo Research?

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Embryo research is the practice of experimentation on human embryos and stem cells. Mainly, the investigations are carried out on left over embryos produced after in vitro fertilisation. During IVF, a woman's ovaries are stimulated to produce multiple ova which are in turn fertilised by the husband or the donor's sperm. Some of the healthy embryos produced by this process are implanted into the woman's womb. One or more of them will probably develop into a foetus and be born nine months later. Excess embryos are then frozen in the event that a pregnancy does not develop, or that a couple wants another baby. Some of these frozen embryos are used by scientists to carry out research. Additionally, aborted embryos can also be used for research.

The ethical debate surrounding embryo research contains a number of moral dimensions. Many opponents, such as the Roman Catholic Church, view it as a manipulation of innocent human life. They adopt the view that human life begins from the moment of conception and, it is therefore, morally wrong to destroy or experiment on life solely for the purposes of research. Those in favour, including many scientists and medics, take the view that embryo research could one day lead to the discovery of a cure for various diseases and medical conditions.

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