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moral concerns about Stem Cell Research have been debated about for a long time
now. The primary conflict is seperated between two vital factions within our
society:  religion and science.  Both factions are incredibly opiniated about
this particular issue with voices that resonate on a global level.  Once politics and national funds are
integrated into the debate, it becomes incredibly difficult to create a
disticntion between what should and should not be done. The main componenent of
the controversey that surrounds this research is the obtainment of the stem

complexity regarding the ongoing debate about stem cell research derives from
the question: “when do we begin to exist?” There is an extensive variety of sides
to take about stem cell research, opening the door to thousands of sources
providing credible evidence for both sides of the spectrum. Both sides have
definite opinions about when human life begins, the distinction between the two
revolves around personal religious interpertations versus scientific studies. Regardless
of the differences, as a society we must compromise if we hope to advance and
establish policies and criteria for SCR (stem cell research).  In order to argree, the method of obtaining stem
cells should be thouroughly understood.

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cells are defined as “an undifferentiated
cell of a multicellular organism that is capable of giving rise to indefinitely
more cells of the same type, and from which certain other kinds of cell arise
by differentiation.”  Stem cells begin forming three to four days
after they have been fertilized. After the cells have endured fertilization,
they form clusters known as blastocysts. The stem cells are obtained from the
center of the blastocyst. Cells obtained in this manner are known as embryonic
stem cells. These cells are capable of substantially benefiting hospital
patients in several ways. Embryonic stem cells have potential to develop into
anything from nerve cells, to an organ as complex as a heart. The amount of
body parts stem cells can be manipulated to create offers an endless amount of
possibilities for cures. There are research groups designated for discovering
new, innovative treatments yet the research with the most promise is SCR.


The concept of stem cell reseacrh has
received a great deal of attention over the last few years, yet it it fails to
generate enough revenue to conduct the amount of research desired. Most of the
funding that stem cell research recieves is derived from private donations to
biotechnology companies. In order to properly execute experiments, researchers
need a substantial amount of money that cannot be derived simply from
donations. The minimal amount of monetary aid limits the quality of research. Stem
cell research companies proposed for the United States Government to pay for
the research during the Bush administration. President George Bush rejected
this proposition and stated “this bill would support the taking of innocent
human life in the hopes of finding medical benefit for others”, a reaction common
among religious and right to life groups globally. This resulted in an enormous
amount of embryos losing their use and essentially the ability to be utilized. An
infinite amount of disorders and diseases can be treated through the use of
these stem cells and it is important to ackowledge the amount of lives they can
potentially save. It is essential to take risks in order to make a scientific
breakthrough and in order to enhance countless lives, we must universally be
content with taking these risks and making new discoveries. Substantially
bettering the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of individuals should
be the priority when establishing what is important. 


/5The majority of individuals that
oppose stem cell research hold the belief that although there are an infinite
amount of alleged benefits, stem cell research is still unethical and the
equivalent of killing. This belief is rooted in the fact that according to most
faiths, life begins at the moment of conception. It is for this reason that
abortions are considered unethical by many as well.

who argue against stem cell research believe that regardless of the alleged
benefits, stem cell research is morally wrong and should be frowned upon.
According to most religions, human life begins at the moment of conception. The
unification of the sperm and the egg is when life begins according to most
people.  Extensive research has not found
documentation that cited a direct quote from any religious document that has
stated this, but it is a widely accepted hypothesis.  Many believe that to tread on such a sacred
miracle would be going against God’s divine plan.  To destroy or manipulate the human life in
any way is not condoned in many of these circles. 


argument is strong in merit and should be considered when debating this
issue.  However, with all arguments,
there are opposing views that must be considered.


At present there are hundreds of
diseases that will benefit from stem cell research.  Debilitating diseases such as rheumatoid
arthritis and osteoarthritis, can utilize stem cells to repair worn out
cartilage. Heart disease patients can benefit as stem cells produce cardiac
tissue to replace damaged arteries. Burn victims can have skin cells reproduce
themselves rather than going through painful skin grafts.. Nerve cells will
grow and replace brain tissue destroyed by diseases and disorders such as
strokes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s, and spinal cord injuries.
Nerve cells also have the potential to create pancreatic cells for people who
suffer from diabetes. Since the body cannot survive without blood cells, stem
cells could be used to restore a person’s blood system with red and white cells
after he or she has undergone cancer treatments. This is also true for the
deadly HIV virus or AIDS. Scientists could create a CD-4 cell found in the
immune system when the HIV kills these cells. Embryonic stem cells have shown
promising results when tested on mice. In one case at the University of
California, a mouse that could not  lift
his tail due to a spinal cord injury was injected with embryonic stem cells and
regained mobility (wired news). It is experiments like this one that give
patients with debilitating diseases and injuries hope. With all of its promises
of treatments and cures there is still the question of moral and ethical values
when it comes to extracting stem cells from embryos.  Are we promoting the destruction of a human
life?  Where do we go from here?


Scientist found alternatives to how
stem cells can be successfully extracted from a living embryo.  Rather than obtaining the cells from an
in-womb fetus, an embryo can be created outside of the woman.  Though controversy still plagues such a
technique it is a solution that could marry both sides of the isle. 


When a couple cannot conceive
children, they resort to in-vitro fertilization. During this process, an
artificial environment is prepared for ten or more embryos of which only three
or four are implanted into the mother. The extra embryos can be handled in two
ways. They may be frozen, which comes with the risk of the embryos dying
anyway, or they may be discarded altogether. The late Christopher Reeve stated
“The issue is not about ethics. You really don’t have an ethical problem
because you’re actually saving lives by using cells that are going to the
garbage,” He continues, “I just don’t see how that’s immoral or
unethical. I really don’t. The solution to the problem is to donate the excess
embryos to scientific research.” (


A very radical view supporting the
use of manufactured embryos was stated by Bonnie Steinbock.  “Since the embryos are killed when the cells
are removed, people who support Pro Life view the cell removal as murder. Most
of these embryos will actually never become a person and some do not even have
the ability to do so. Despite their claims, one must realize that these embryos
have no brain, central nervous system, mouth, heart, lungs, or other internal
organs. They cannot see, hear, touch, or taste and have absolutely no
consciousness. Early embryos, indeed early-gestation fetuses, have no
consciousness, no awareness, no experiences of any kind, even the most
rudimentary. Without even the precursor of a nervous system, pre-implantation
embryos cannot possibly have any kind of consciousness” (Steinbock). This set a
fire under most Pro-Life organizations and a set back for the scientific
world.  In order to counter act such
negative publicity it was back to the drawing board in hopes of finding less
controversial ways of obtaining stem cells. 
The ethics issue was finding common ground for all involved.
stem cells are now being more thoroughly researched in hopes of eliminating the
moral issues associated with embryonic stem cells. It was once believed that by
birth the ability of the cells to give rise to every tissue was lost. New
research has shown how fatuous such a view was. Countless cells in children and
adults have the ability to give rise to a variety of cell types when put in a
specific environment. This may seem like a perfect solution to end the stem
cell controversy, but one must understand the drawbacks of using adult stem
cells in comparison to embryonic cells. Adult stem cells only have the ability
to generate into a few types of tissue and are hard to separate and extract
from the surrounding cells. Embryonic stem cells are easily extracted and have
the potential to develop into any one of the types of body tissue. This is the
reason scientists are fighting for the funding and continuing of stem cell
research. They feel that with the knowledge they already have about stem cells
and further research, they could possibly change the quality of life for
hundreds of thousands.

Many potential advantages can be
gained from stem cell research. Scientists are on the brink of making
life-changing discoveries, but are being slowed down due to the restrictions
put on their research. Researchers may use stem cells to explain why we have
some cells that grow and function normally and other which become unhealthy and
die. Stem cells are also being used to test new medicines. Scientists are able
to test medicines on cell lines to determine which one has the most
advantageous effects, therefore enabling faster and more efficient drug
development. Even though the public has been unable to see many stem cell discoveries
due to the controversy involved, one must realize that advances are being made.
In other countries such as Canada and China where laws on research are not as
strict, numerous discoveries have been made. We must encourage the continuing
of stem cell research so that we can begin to reap the benefits.
stem cell research has been considered unethical for numerous reasons,
continuing research will prove to be beneficial in the future. Stem cell
research, although debatable to many individuals, is extremely important to the
future of our medical world. Stem cells may unlock the key to curing a myriad
of diseases millions of people die from each year. Restricting research funding
now will only delay the betterment of lives. Since the discovery of the first
stem cell in 1998, stem cell research has been considered the biggest medical
breakthrough in decades. Stem cell research has gained more potential over the
years and may supply a cure for some of the world’s most deadly diseases.


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