One of the ironies in the stem cell debate is that there is a camp of scientists and ethicists who are trying to strike a kind of middle ground in which embryonic stem cells are allowed to be cloned or created for research, but only for what is called therapeutic purposes and not for reproductive purposes. (This story makes note of that.) In short, they believe cloning and ESC research should be allowed only to allow the product to be destroyed and the stem cells or organs harvested. It would be much worse, apparently, if infertile couples cloned an embryo to raise it and care for it as a human being.
The poet and ethicist J. Bottum has noted that this runs contrary to our moral intuitions and leads to a scientific culture reminiscent of our worst dystopias. At least, he argues, if we allow cloning and ESC research, let us do so for reasons much more humane than destruction and research. Doubtless the defenders of this odd position point out that the destruction and research is for potential future benefit. But I cannot come up with another situation in which we as a culture allow the wholesale slaughter and destruction of a certain class of humans for the potential future benefit of a few.
We must resist the tendency our scientific culture has to euphemize its way out of moral conundrums. If we beat down our moral intuitions for too long, they may be very hard to regain indeed.