Personhood: the Central Question in Medical Ethics Essay

1226 Words Aug 24th, 2010 5 Pages
Personhood: The central question in Medical Ethics A patient is lying on a hospital bed hooked up to several machines regulating his bodily functions. The doctor has informed the family that the patient is brain dead. His spouse makes the decision to pull the plug but his mother argues against it. It is the mothers opinion that her son is still alive, and deserves to be treated like a person, even though his brain is no longer functioning. The spouse holds the opinion that any trace of her loved one has left with the death of his brain and only his body remains. Suddenly, both remember the patients wishes to not be sustained on life support, and they collectively decide to pull the plug. This example illustrates the central debate …show more content…
Abortion is not the only issue illustrating the importance of personhood. Another is that of Cloning. Cloning faces the issue of potentially creating another human being from the DNA of a pre-existing one. The cloned individual will be an exact genetic copy of an already existing individual. A major argument in this debate of therapeutic cloning faces the psychological damage a cloned individual may face. Opposers feel that a cloned individual is a person, and that one person should never do something to another person which may cause him/her harm. Therefore, cloning should not be considered, because it may have potentially damaging psychological effects on the cloned individual. The opposite view states the opinion that cloning individuals may offer great Therapeutic promise. If there are a large supply of “harvestable” bodies then there would be more opportunity available to the original population for optimal health care. Here, we again see, that the central argument behind cloning is whether or not the clone can be considered a person. If so, then cloning is unethical as it can cause the person psychological damage. If not, then the clone has no rights and can be created to supply the original with organs, or cells if the need were to arise. This issue also arises in the debate surrounding Reproductive cloning. If personhood is defined as having a soul, then it must be asked if a cloned

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