Stem Cell Research: Ethical Nursing Principle

Stem cell research disrupts embryo development since stem cells are extracted from its blastula. On the one hand, Huidu (2019) states that the embryo is not developed enough to be considered an infant, which justifies the practice. On the other hand, some scholars argue for unborn children’s moral status that they acquire upon egg’s fertilization (Huidu, 2019). From that perspective, disrupting its development can be considered murder and an ethical violation.

The ethical nursing principle that is being violated by the stem cell research is beneficence. According to the American Nurses Association (2001), it refers to the nurses’ obligation to have good intentions and act in patients’ interest. This core principle is directly violated by stem cell research since some nurses consider human embryo to be a patient and cannot perform actions that will harm it.

Stem cell research is contradictory to the nurses’ third provision that obliges them to protect patients’ rights. With the unclear legal framework of embryo rights, medical professionals are free to interpret the embryo’s moral status (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2001). Thus, those who consider it a killing of an unborn child also violate the third provision by knowingly participating in research and therapy that violates a patient’s right to live.

Despite the legal and ethical implications, stem cell research is projected to bring positive change to healthcare. The discipline’s current development focuses on stem cell injections that can help people with Parkinson’s disease. Due to the ability to multiply, they are also used to recover the immune system (Huidu, 2019). As it relates to costs, cell therapy’s price will decrease, making it more affordable.

The main change in nursing by 2025 will be the need in an additional proficiency level. Perrin et al. (2017) showcase a growing need in specific skills to work with stem cells. Some of them include “stem cell infusion, chemotherapy administration, and acute symptom management” (Perrin et al., 2017, p. 7). Since many nurses lack these competencies in specialized hospitals, there is an emerging need for additional training.

In case stem cell research becomes legal and continues to develop in modern medicine, nurses will face a conflict of morality. The dilemma of embryo’s status is a grey area for law and ethics’ scholars, making it controversial for nurses to administer (Huidu, 2019). Thus, some nurses who support the pro-life perspective will experience difficulties in facilitating stem cell research and therapy.


American Nurses Association. (2001). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. Silver Spring.

Huidu, A. (2019). Advances in Library and Information Science, 17(1), 244-263. Web.

Perrin, M., Kim, T., Stan, R., Giesie, P., Tabor, J., Le Verche, V., Johnson, S., Lomax, G. P., & Zaia, J. A. (2017). Stem Cells Translational Medicine, 7(1), 6-10. Web.

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