Emerging ethical, legal and social issues associated with stem cell research & and the current role of the moral status of the embryo

Stem Cell Rev Rep. 2009 Jun;5(2):96-101. doi: 10.1007/s12015-009-9062-4. Epub 2009 May 14.


Since its early days, stem cell research, particularly human embryonic stem cell research, has been the focus of intense social debate, and the question of the moral status of the embryo has been a central issue in the controversy. Despite this friction, and while it has yet to obtain widespread success in clinical applications, stem cell research remains a great hope for future advances in healthcare. In this paper, we will discuss the results of our systematic literature review in which we examined recent social science, legal and biomedical discourse, as well as Canadian print media discourse, associated with stem cell research in order to assess the role the question of the moral status of the embryo currently plays in these forums, and to identify what other issues are emerging and receiving attention. This analysis will assist with recognizing the issues which are likely to inform future policy and will facilitate forecasting the probable direction of the continually developing social discourse surrounding stem cell research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Embryo Research / ethics*
  • Embryo Research / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Ethics, Research
  • Humans
  • Social Sciences
  • Stem Cells*