Stem Cell Research
If you have turned on a television in the last few months, it is inevitable that you have seen and heard lots of talk about the upcoming 2008 Presidential election. Who will get your vote? If you have given any thought to this question, it is likely that you have done your research on both the Democratic and Republican candidate and also on the issues facing America today. Stem cell research is one of the many pressing issues that will play a big part in the election and one that the Bush administration had to tackle when George W. Bush first took office. Stem cell research is definitely an issue that Americans shouldnt take lightly because it has the potential to save millions of lives and keep Americas reputation as the medical pioneers. Like all issues though, unfortunately stem cell research has pros and cons and depending on how firm your religious beliefs are planted and what your religious beliefs are, it may effect which side you take.
Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimers; these are just a few human diseases and disorders that may have affected you or someone you know. If you knew that scientists were on the brink of curing diseases such as these, would you support them? The real question remains; would you continue your support knowing that a person was saved at the sacrifice of another being that had no voice? Lets first explore and understand the facts.
What exactly are stem cells? Our bodies contain hundreds of different types of cells that carry out functions for different organs in our bodies such as our blood, heart and brain. There are 220 different types of cells to be exact and researchers have discovered a way to extract these cells from human embryos and grow the cells in a laboratory. These researchers have taken growth to the next level by coaxing these stem cells to develop into most of the different cells that our bodies contain. Researchers are one day hoping that growing these stem cells will lead to cures for hundreds of different diseases and disorders that thousands of Americans die from everyday. The only problem with this huge medical breakthrough though is the life that is lost after the stem cells have been extracted. The embryo is destroyed and cannot develop into a human being once the stem cells have been removed. This is where the research is not so much black and white anymore but it is a really tough gray area. The embryos that are commonly used are coming from fertility clinics where they have an unwanted surplus. There is no way to dispose of the excess embryos that arent used and most get destroyed (Robinson, Background 1). The scientific world and religious values meet face on when scientist view the embryo as a potential gain in the medical world and religious conservatives view the embryo as a life killed. Religion plays its part when pro-lifers are fighting for those frozen embryos and for protection because they feel that embryos have a soul and that they are an actual human being. They see the extraction as murder for medical experimentation on human beings. Can the embryos ethically be killed in order to harvest their stem cells and should federal funding support this type of research? When this issue was put in front of Bushs lap in 2001, his platform had originally banned the research but then decided to give stem cell research limited funding from the government and the research would be limited in what scientists could do. There were 60 stem cell lines that already existed that were already being cultured in labs. The 60 stem cell lines are all researchers had to work with once Bush allowed the limited research. The only problem with those lines is that most of them had become useless to research because they were not in good enough shape and they lacked ethnic diversity (Robinson, Can President Bush 1).
President Bush stated, As I thought through this issue, I kept returning to two fundamental questions. First, are those frozen embryos human life and therefore something precious to be protected? And second, if theyre going to be destroyed anyway, shouldnt they be used for a greater good, for research that has the potential to save and improve other lives? (Robinson, Can President Bush 1) Bush asked himself this question; are those frozen embryos human life and should they be protected? The embryos being used are three to five days past conception and is only made up of a few dozen cells that altogether are even too small to be seen without a microscope. The embryo has no consciousness, no ability to love, feel love, or even pain. The surplus embryos that would be used for research are doomed anyhow because if the medical laboratories dont use them, whatever is left over from fertility treatments are destroyed. Fertility clinics destroy far more human embryos than stem-cell research ever would, yet they are not controversial (Kinsley, 1). Everyone has the right to formulate their own beliefs; that is the beauty of America. But when it comes down to saving lives and curing diseases, sometimes we have to look past our beliefs and accept those of others.
Stem cell research really mirrors the abortion debate which is another issue in itself. Here you have an embryo that was left over from a fertility treatment that will more than likely be destroyed. The embryo is not a fetus and the cells that make up the embryo have not yet started differentiating. The embryo being experimented with is destroyed after the stem cells are extracted (Kinsley, 1). Should that embryo be considered a human being with full human rights? Those who oppose stem cell research say yes. They say it is unethical to experiment with and murder that potential life for the sacrifice of another. They also think that the research is an unacceptable use of taxpayer dollars (Berger, 1). The majority of opponents for this type of research are from the Catholic Church and they base their stance off of their religious beliefs (Stem Cell Research, 1). Religion or science. It is as simple and as complicated as that.
The controversy of stem cell research is far from being over. With the presidential election coming up, big changes could possibly be coming and you have the power to have a voice in the controversy by just voting. The outcome of it all could potentially save one of your family members lives or quite possibly your own.