Stem Cell Research: Should we legalize it?

Stem Cell Research: Should we legalize it?
I. Introduction and History
Is going against certain religious morals worth finding cures using experimental science? Many scientists are constantly trying to push the boundaries of science to find new things. This is especially true in the medical partition of experimental science. There are a great deal of scientists working everyday to find cures to today’s diseases and illnesses such as Aids, cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. People live with these illnesses everyday of their lives, and the number of people with diseases rises day after day. Naturally people want to help others so they turn to science. Religious people don’t have a problem with trying to help people, but rather the method used for finding the treatments is what sparks the controversy.
Scientists have been doing research using plants from the time when medicine was invented. Many vaccines and other medicines have been created using plants, but nothing too big in the world of medical science. In the 60s two Canadian scientists discovered stem cells. A stem cell has “two important characteristics that distinguish them from other types of cells… they are unspecialized cells that renew themselves for long periods through cell division [and] they can be induced to become cells with special functions such as the beating cells of the heart muscle or the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas” (Stem Cell Basics 1). Since the discovery of stem cells, interest in them has grown exponentially. Many of the top scientists in the world believe that stem cells have the potential to cure many of today’s illnesses.
Research using embryonic stem cells is currently legal in the United States but “research can be conducted… [only] with private money” (Stolberg 2), it cannot be federally funded. A bill was also passed that stated human embryos cannot be created for the sole purpose of destroying them during stem cell research. President Bush vetoed bills trying to pass federal funding for stem cell research. Eventually President Bush made an address on television stating that he will not allow federal funding for new stem cells, but will fund research for previously obtained embryos from the past and he would allow private companies to fund the research themselves. President Bush compared “the decision about federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research to a decision to commit troops to battle” (Gibbs 1).
Stem cells have great potential but at the cost of going against the morals of many people. Research on stem cells has brought up a lot of questions. How wrong is the research if it is for finding cures to widespread diseases? Are embryos growing inside a lab the same as one inside a mother’s womb? “Is it O.K. to experiment on [them] if [they are] going to be destroyed anyway” (Gibbs 1)? Should scientists be able to play the role of God by changing the way a living organism was supposed to be? Even though some believe that stem cell research is morally wrong, and should be considered murder because scientists are destroying the beginning of a human being, the truth of the matter is stem cell research is beneficial for our society because it will help people cure diseases, and may in the future be able to create organs from scratch, helping all of the people waiting for organ transplants.
II. Argument against Stem Cell Research
One of the main arguments against stem cell research is that embryonic stem cell research kills growing humans during the research process. Embryonic stem cells are taken from aborted fetuses, which in turn generate conflicts between scientists and pro-life activists. Pro-life activists often mention the fact that “there are other, slightly less controversial means of culling the precious cell” (Reaves 2), but those cells don’t have the same liveliness and usefulness as those received from embryos. Many pro-life people also argue the point that “an embryo is a human life, not a piece of research material, [and] [from] a moral standpoint, it is unacceptable for people to destroy innocent human life for their own benefit” (Saltzman 1). When they bring up the fact that an embryo is a human life and it’s growing, people tend to side with them, even though scientists are doing it to potentially save lives.
Although embryonic stem cell research looks very promising there are alternatives to getting stem cells from embryos, for example adult stem cells. Pro-life activists are praising this new type of research. They believe that “federalizing fetal stem cell research will solve nothing morally because… it requires the destruction of human embryos and it feeds on abortion” (Saltzman 3). If we “find another source of stem cells …the moral problem goes away” (Saltzman 4), and everyone will be happy. But the problem with adult stem cells is that they are “marginally helpful to scientists, and do not show the same promise as those culled from embryos. Adult cells are fairly set in their ways, and don’t seem to grow or replicate themselves as quickly as [embryonic stem cells]” (Reaves 3). This creates a problem for scientists, since research using adult stem cells is far behind that of embryonic stem cells, scientists don’t want to spend years of research and experimenting just to get where they are with embryonic stem cells right now.
The final case against stem cell research is the fact that someday as a result of research people will use the technology just for personal gain. One example of this would be private cloning. If we find out how to manipulate cells to grow into what we want, people will offer services of cloning pets or even people just so they can get money. Genetic engineering will also be possible. If a family wanted to have children that possess certain attributes such as blue eyes or brown hair, they would be able to go to a private company and have their child’s cells be manipulated to produce the desired result. Some say that this will happen if society “carelessly [slides] down the slippery slope of destroying human life in order to advance our scientific curiosity” (Reaves 3).
III. Argument in Favor of Stem Cell Research
Even though there are some in society who believe stem cell research is morally unacceptable and should be banned, many people believe that stem cell research should be allowed. One of the primary arguments supporting stem cell research is that they have a really good probability for “dramatic cures for cancer, heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis and a host of other diseases” (Stem Cell Research 4). If scientists do figure out a cure for any of those listed, the interest in stem cells would grow exponentially and would get attention from all over the world. Then people would help raise money for research and the government could possibly legalize federal funding, but because federal funding is not legal in the US “new treatments will be delayed by years, and many who might otherwise have been saved will surely die or endure needless suffering” (Goldstein 2).
Anther reason why stem cell research should be legal is that it may be able to produce organs or replace bad cell tissue. If scientist can grow organs in a lab it will decrease the waiting time for organ transplants greatly. Today the many people waiting on an organ transplant list will either not get an organ or not get it in time. Stem cell research offers the “possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissue” (Center for Bioethics 3). Doctors would be able to take cells, such as heart muscle cells, and transplant them to a heart “in order to augment the function of the failing heart” (Center for Bioethics 4). That process would save tens of thousands of people. This is what could cure diabetes for many people. Doctors would inject new pancreatic cells that would fix your pancreas and cure you of diabetes.
The final reason why stem cell research should be allowed is that it will help us more understand how the human body and cells work. If we knew how genes and cells make decisions on what to do we would be able to control them. That would possible if we could “[identify] the factors involved in the cellular decision-making process that results in cell specialization” (NIH 3). Because we know that diseases such as cancer are caused by abnormal cell division we could stop the cells from dividing if we knew how they communicate that message by changing the message outputted by the cancerous cells. This would allow us to cure all types of cancer and save millions of lives. Birth defects would also be able to be stopped as a result of this discovery.
IV. Conclusion
Even though some believe that doing stem cell research is morally wrong and should be completely banned, the truth is stem cell research is a vital asset in finding cures to the many illnesses and diseases people live with daily. Although embryonic stem cell research does destroy the embryo, it is done on embryos from abortions and from fertility clinics, which allows the embryos to be put to good use instead of wasting them by not using them. They also have the ability to grow into organs that can be used for organ transplants, saving many peoples lives by shortening the waiting period. Stem cells have the “potential to revolutionize the practice of medicine and improve the quality and length of life” (Center for Bioethics 6). Stem cells also will help us find out how the body’s cells work and further our knowledge on the human body, which could lead to new developments in drugs. Because of the disagreement between allowing stem cell research and not allowing it, Americans and all other people in the world are being denied possible cures. Eventually there will be cures found, but if stem cell research is not federally funded that process will take a lot longer. Sooner or later people will realize that stem cell research should be taken advantage of because of its potential. A president will most likely pass a bill allowing federal funding and then within a year or two a major breakthrough will be found.

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