If it is reasonable to stop life-prolonging treatment for fully alert, self-aware (but dying) adults, why would it possibly not be reasonable to perform research on a ball of a hundred or so cells with virtually no physical organizaion or life processes beyond mere cellular metabolism, let alone consciousness, self-awareness, and personhood, as well as values, goals, interests, and desires? Or to look at it the other way, if we’re so obsessed with mere biological life at any cost that we’re willing to protect blastulas under any and all circumstances, how can you justify ending life support, or denying resuscitation, to actual people?
First, I do not advocate stopping treatment. I advocate appropriate treatment. Sometimes it’s appropriate to use high-risk, -tech and toxic interventional treatment. At other times, it is more appropriate to provide paliative care and/or comfort only care.
It is never right to kill one human for the benefit of another. It is also never appropriate to re-define which humans are “persons” or human enough for protection from killing — even if we have found some utilitarian reason to do so.
Simply put, the difference is in the intention to cause death by an intentional act rather than allow death due to the patient’s illness.
By changing from intensive technological treatment to palliative care, we do not inject poison or smother the patient with the intention to cause death. In fact, if the body heals or the patient changes his mind, we can reassess and possibly resume the higher level of intervention.
There is no such option to “reassess” in the case of destructive embryonic research.