Ethics in Healthcare

There is no other industry where ethical issues are more seen than in the health industry. Many have begun to question the ethics and morality behind many healthcare and medical practices as to whether these are indeed the “best” option for the patient (Reiter-Theil & Hiddemann 2001). Recently, much debate has been done regarding the use of human embryo stem cells in order to save a patient’s life, specifically the act of parents conceiving a child in order to provide their critically ill child a donor who is a perfect match in order to extend the life of their first child (Robertson, Kahn & Wagner 2002).

For this paper, five articles regarding human embryo stem cell research have been reviewed. The ethical issue of conceiving another child in order to serve as a stem cell donor for a critically ill child is currently faced by parents whose child or children are inflicted with life threatening circulatory and immune system diseases. Studies regarding embryo stem cell donors have provided the parents the knowledge that sibling donors provide the best match for their ailing child.

This is because stem cells coming from a donor that is not a close family member may cause complications on the part of the patient which includes the possibility that the immune system of the patient will be attacked by the white blood cells coming from the donor stem cells (Lenoir 2000; Robertson, Kahn & Wagner 2002). The ethical issue surrounding this latest trend does not apply to those parents who had planned on conceiving another child, but decided to have the child earlier than they had planned as a result of the health condition of their other child.

Rather, it is the decision made by parents to conceive a child for the sole reason to provide their ailing child a donor where ethical issues arise. This is because parents who decide to have another child for the sole reason to find a suitable donor for their other child who is critically ill is more prone to use various methodologies to ensure that the fetus that the mother will be carrying to full term will be a viable match. Among these methods include prenatal testing, selective abortion and the implanting of perfectly matched embryos in the uterus of the mother (Lenoir 2000; Meyer & Nelson 2001; Robertson, Kahn & Wagner 2002).

Alternative solutions regarding this include the creation of stem cells directly from embryonic stem cells. Through this the parents of the child would be able to create the stem cells needed to save their child’s life without having to conceive another for this sole purpose (Geron Ethics Advisory Board 1999). In all of the articles reviewed for this paper, the authors have presented the facts in a clear and detailed manner. Except for the article written by the Geron Ethics Advisory Board, the articles first provided an introductory paragraph that provides a short summary on the central issue that is to be discussed in the article.

The authors then expounded on the particular topic that they concentrated on. This was then followed by reasons as to why the ethical issue has become widespread and why this has become such a concern in the field of medical science and healthcare. This is then followed by the presentation of evidences collected that justified the actions of the parents of critically ill patients in order to save their child’s life. This is then followed by the ethical and morality issues that surround the decision made by the parents. Just like the justification, each fact is fully explained. These are then collated in a summary.

Instead of providing a conclusion, the authors had provided recommendations of alternative choices the parents may consider either now or in the future. Because the article created by the Geron Ethics Advisory Board concentrated on the presentation of alternative means to provide stem cells as a cure for critically ill patients, the article first lists all the possible solutions that the parents may look into. The Board then discusses each solution by providing the pros and cons as well as its ethical and moral implications.


Geron Ethics Advisory Board. (March – April 1999). Research with human embryonic cells:ethical considerations. The Hastings center report, 29(2), 31-36. Lenoir, N. (February 2000). Europe confronts the embryonic stem cell research challenge. Science, 287(5457), 1425-27. Meyer, M. J. & Nelson, L. J. (January – February 2001). Respecting what we destroy: reflections on human embryo research. The Hastings center report, 31(1), 16-23. Reiter-Theil, S. & Hiddemann, W. (2001). Ethics in medicine. The European journal of health economics, 2(1), 18-25. Robertson, J. A. , Kahn, J. P. & Wagner, J. E. (May – June 2002). Conception to obtain hematopoietic stem cells. The Hastings center report, 32(3), 34-40.

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