Science is an interesting thing indeed. A lot of people who have severe conditions may require organ transplants to live. That is why scientists are using science to create artificially created specimens that we can use to harvest human organs.
Also known as Chimeras, these species would be cultivated using gene editing and stem cell technologies. This is to help us create either human-sheep or human-pig chimeras so that we can harvest them of much-needed organs. You could say that their primary role for existence would just be for the harvest of such things.
In theory, this is something that is going to be useful since people would no longer have to wait for willing organ donors. However, this may still need to be discussed on a broader scale because this raises the question: are these organisms going to attain personhood status?
The question was raised because scientists are arguing that if human neurons are incorporated into an animal’s body, would the procedure create a human being? Moreover, stem cells can be used to produce human sex cells. If, for example, mice will be injected with human stem cells and those cells are used to create human gametes, would the baby that would form due to these gametes be considered as humans as well?
The Definition of a ‘Human Being’
To put things in perspective, the term “human being” actually just refers to an animal that is known to belong to the species Homo Sapiens. Religious beliefs would put it that a human being will be granted a soul as part of achieving humanity.
Personhood, on the other hand, refers to the capacity of a human being to have sophisticated behaviors, as well as moral beliefs. Thus, when something is given personhood status, then they will be given certain legal protections that are only reserved to humans.
Some Secular Ethicists would give personhood another meaning in that a thing may only be considered a person (and thus, enjoys the privileges of personhood) if it is able to think, communicate, and has self-awareness.
The problem with both definitions is that it is not really quantifiable by science, which means that it may be hard to truly consider something as a human being and, therefore, be worthy of given the privileges of personhood.
What Scientists Want
Scientists want to use a slightly different approach than the definitions that were made by both religious groups and secular ethicists.
For a thing to achieve human status, it must be born from another human or from human gametes. It is considered to be a human being whether or not it has the capacity of doing things that are considered to be human-like or they possess cognitive abilities.
So in essence, biotechnologies may come across many ethical challenges that would have to be discussed by both religious and scientific bodies.
For now, we will have to stick with the notion that if humans are created from another human, they both receive human and personhood status.