Embryonic Stem Cell Research Controversy

Discussion
Feb 1, 2016

“Embryonic Stem Cell Research Controversy”

“Stem cells” are probably two words that may strike one as a confusing topic or irrelevant to someone in his of her life. To help clear the confusion, the analogy of doctors can be used; say, there are two doctors: a family doctor at a clinic and a cardiologist at a hospital. The family doctor is one who practices medicine in the general sense by testing and diagnosing the body in the holistic/overseeing approach. On the other hand, the cardiologist spends practices his profession under one specific speciality/ region of the body which is the heart. Likewise, stem cells and normal cells can be analyzed in a similar fashion. Red blood cells, for instance, in the body are responsible for dispersing oxygen throughout the body; It serves one primary, specific function, which would make it a specialized cell. Stem cells, on the other hand, are unspecialized cells capable of being specialized for a virtually any body function such as repair damaged cells (https://med.stanford.edu/ludwigcenter/overview/theory.html); Because stem cells are not bound to just one “speciality” so to say, they would be similar to a family doctor in reference to my analogy above.

Because of the great pliability of stem cells, it allows them to be manipulated to serve any function a body may be lacking in/ needs repair in/ etc., great efforts have been invested in research to “cure various deadly diseases and further understanding of human development.” (http://www.macalester.edu/academics/environmentalstudies/students/projec...) Does this seem too good to be true? Maybe a bit. The controversy behind this research lies in the question of morality and defining the boundary between “right” and “wrong.” The most supple of stem cells are extracted from unborn fetuses, who have been donated by fertility clinics, parents of miscarried lives, and such.

The idea that these fetuses have been aborted/miscarried and donated to the labs for use in any manner deemed fit strikes some as disturbingly wrong, supporting their claim that every right of the unborn life should be protected with dignity. Others, on the contrary, support the advancement towards minimizing the adverse effects of diseases on the body through the means of research, justifying that a fallen life gives rise to the benefit of many others. As of now, there are no federal regulations strictly banning the use of embryonic stem cells for research purposes other than ”the law prohibit the creation of any embryo for sole research purposes” (http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/stemcells/scissues/) The most recent government input on the matter was in 2009 from President Obama, who advocated for the continuity of such research by stating that “limitations on scientific inquiry” (https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2009-03-11/pdf/E9-5441.pdf) should be removed. By and by, the most pressing question is: what is YOUR stance and what will YOU do about it?

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