The status given to human embryos — human subjects, human tissue or something in-between — will be the focus of the third installment of Lawrence University’s 2002-2003 Edward F. Mielke Lecture Series in Biomedical Ethics.

Bonnie Steinbock, professor of philosophy at the State University of New York, Albany, will deliver the address “Moral Status, Moral Value and Human Embryos” Friday, April 11 at 7 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center auditorium on the Lawrence campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

A specialist in biomedical ethics issues related to reproduction and genetics, Steinbock will discuss various theories of the moral status of embryos used in stem cell research. She favors the view that says embryos have moral “value” but do not warrant moral “status,” which is reserved for sentient, aware beings. As a form of human life, embryos, Steinbock argues, are owed respect. But this respect differs significantly from the respect due to persons and such respect is consistent with embryonic stem cell research.

A member of the SUNY-Albany philosophy department since 1977, Steinbock has written widely on issues of moral status, embryonic stem cell research, sex selection and cloning and is the author of the book “Life Before Birth: The Moral and Legal Status of Embryos and Fetuses” (Oxford, 1992).

Steinbock, who also serves as a fellow of the Hastings Center, an independent, nonprofit, research institute that explores fundamental ethical questions in health care, biotechnology and the environment, earned a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.