#000000;">A Look at Stem Cell Research
#000000;">Stem cell research has become one of the most controversial fields in medicine in recent years because in order to harvest stem cells, an embryo must be destroyed (Falco, 2009). The destruction of embryos is an ethical and moral issue that is being decided by the government. However, science has advanced to areas that most never thought possible. With that advancement, each individual is being confronted with the issues of money, ethics, and the possibility of curing disease when considering stem cell research.
#000000;">Stem cell research is a costly venture. There are private labs and there are universities that are conducting the research. Funding for research is received from the government much of the time. Because of the great controversy between science and morals, religious and otherwise, the U.S. government has limited the amount of funding available for stem cell research (Palca, 2009). There are comparisons made between this research and abortion. Because of this ethical dilemma, the U.S. government has tried to satisfy both sides of the controversy and allow the research while imposing limits on how much federal money will be used for the research. This compromise by the government seems to be an effort to respect moral beliefs, while at the same time allowing some research to continue.
#000000;">What the government does not have the power to limit is private funding. In an NPR article, Joe Palca (2009) writes,
#000000;">There are virtually no restrictions on the kind of stem-cell research that may be done in this country. The federal restrictions are on the use of federal dollars for embryonic stem-cell research. With private money, scientists can do practically anything that want.
#000000;">Universities and labs across the country have received millions of dollars in private funding. This has helped to keep stem cell research active. The money that is given in the form of governmental grants comes from tax-payer dollars. Therefore, each and every tax-payer is thinking about the controversy. The people who are against the research do not agree with their money supporting the research, while those who are in agreement with the research may not be averse to the funding.
#000000;">An embryo is a group of about 100 cells. It is not the equivalent of a baby. These cells have the ability to grow and develop into a baby if implanted into a woman’s uterus. However, at the embryo stage, they are just cells. They have no thoughts, no soul, and no feelings. This is one side of the controversy. The other side feels that life begins at the time an egg becomes fertilized. They feel that an embryo is life, it is a baby. Fertility clinics create many embryos for their patients. In fact, many more embryos are created than will ever be used. According to an article by Michael Kinsley (2004), “An embryo used in stem-cell research (and fertility treatments) is three to five days past conception. It consists of a few dozen cells that together are too small to be seen without a microscope” (p. 88). When these embryos are not used, they are destroyed. The people in charge of this process do not think of the embryos as babies. The patients, doctors, and others associated with fertility clinics must not think of them as babies either.
#000000;">Currently, there are laboratories working on methods to harvest stem cells without destroying embryos. The critics of stem cell research equate the destruction of an embryo to abortion or murder. Scientists are on the verge of being able to cure many diseases on a cellular level. The critics will have to decide if they can live with the trade-off or not. It becomes a very personal decision and the government has no right to make this decision. As a democratic nation, we the people are supposed to be making decisions for ourselves. Elected officials are put in place to represent the public, but is this what is actually happening? When we elect a leader, it is generally based on the issues that a candidate discussed in the campaign. However, it seems like much of the time, the position of the elected official changes once that person is elected and sworn into office.
#000000;">Stem cells have the possibility of becoming any type of cell in the body. People with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes or Parkinson’s are very excited about this discovery. The idea of a cure by the use of stem cells is unbelievable for many. The critics of this research need to examine closely their thoughts on this subject. There are several questions that need to be answered. These questions are difficult, thus creating the controversy. Do we adhere to the moral values of religious philosophy or do we advance with science? Would we be opposed to the use of stem cells if it could help a family member or even ourselves live a more productive life? Each person’s moral core is going to be tested on this topic. Do we allow the government to continue deciding how much money is to be spent on stem cell research? Do we, the people, even allow stem cell research to continue at all?
#000000;">Falco, M. (2009, January 23). FDA Approves human embryonic stem cell study. Retrieved January 26, 2009, from CNN.com: www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/01/23/stem.cell/index.html?section=cnn_latest
#000000;">Hype over experience. (2005, September 24). Economist , Retrieved January 26, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.
#000000;">Kalb, C. & Raymond, J. (March, 15 2004). Brand-new stem cells. Newsweek, 143(11), 57-57. Retrieved January 26, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.
#000000;">Kinsley, M. (2004, May 31). The false controversy of stem cells. Time, 163(22), 88-88. Retrieved January 26, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.
#000000;">Palca, J. (2009, January 26). Embryonic stem cells: exploding the myths. Retrieved January 26, 2009, from npr: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.pp?storyId=5376892