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Is Stem Cell Research Unethical?

Updated on February 24, 2011

Stem Cells

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Ethics of Stem Cell Research

Stem cells are cells that are found in different stages of human life. They have the ability to differentiate into any kind of cell in the body. Stem cells may hold the key to curing many problems in people and animals. Some kinds of stem cell use already exist and have been beneficial. But there is one problem that has been going on for the past decade. Is embryonic stem cell research morally wrong? No. Embryonic stem cell research can be taken to the next level to cure many diseases never thought possible. It may become a commonly used treatment in years to come.

There are different types of stem cells that exist and are used for different objectives. One kind, of course is embryonic stem cells. These can be extracted from a human embryo roughly after the fourth day of conception. “These stem cells are capable of producing any specific type of cell in the human body. Next, there are adult stem cells. Adult cells have already taken some degree of specialization and are only capable of producing a few specific types of cells in certain parts of the body. Adult blood stem cells can produce red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Skin stem cells can produce various types of specific skin cells, and so on. But there is a problem with using adult stem cells. It is the fact that if the cell is thirty years old and put into a person it keeps its age? In other words the cell won’t live as long and has a limited number of times that it can divide. The third type of stem cell was newly discovered and is found in the umbilical cord. It has not easy to extract the cells from an umbilical cord now. However it may become more plausible to use them in the future.

The controversy over stem cell research has really formed opinions in people over the past couple years. All the hustle and bustle lies in the destroying of the embryo just for extracting stem cells. People believe this is immoral and wrong to do. President Bush believes the government should not promote research that destroys human embryos for the sake of harvesting their stem cells. People’s religion has influenced people’s opinion on the subject. But what if one of your family members is completely paralyzed and in a wheel chair? What if they were one of the best tennis players in the world until they unluckily fell off a trampoline and injured their spinal cord? Would that change your opinion? If embryonic stem cell research is banned, because the embryo is destroyed, what about people who try to get pregnant with in vitro fertilization. During in vitro fertilization sometimes hundreds of embryos are made to get one embryo healthy enough to be put in the mother’s womb. The other embryos go to waste. Why not use them to help cure diseases not able to be cured until now?

Due to the value of human life concept, humans put themselves higher than any other living thing on the planet. People use chimpanzees, monkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits, etc. to be put in whatever pain or suffering just to help ourselves. And we can’t even permit the use of a human embryo to better people’s lives. Maybe a few years from now people will realize there are much worse things being done than using embryos for good intentions. Eventually people will realize this is for the better, and if there was any other way not to destroy the embryo, scientists would take that route.

Whatever the case if the government makes a law banning the research if embryos are destroyed, researchers in Cambridge, Massachusetts have another plan. They have discovered a way to create embryonic stem cells without destroying the embryos; a development that scientists believe may make the field more politically and ethnically acceptable. The extraction takes place when a fertilized embryo is two to three days old and consists of only eight cells. “You can take a cell out of the embryo like you could pluck a grape, from a bunch of grapes”.
Stem cell research is not evil and isn’t ethnically wrong if it’s being used for a good purpose, especially if the embryo isn’t even harmed. What is the point of going against something that could someday treat Parkinson’s disease, leukemia, spinal cord injuries, muscle damage, and even cancer. The research has highlighted the fact that stem cell research no doubt represents a social and ethical challenge.

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    • conradofontanilla profile image

      conradofontanilla 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      The use of embryo, two-day or four-day old, for research is no longer needed. We are talking of an embryo that results from a zygote (totipotent stem cell) formed by parents. Shinya Yamanaka has discovered the override around 2006. He reprogrammed adult skin cells back into pluripotent stems that can develop into adult cells. These are called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). Now stem cell research goes on full speed with iPS. The ethical issue on embryo of the traditional way in the 60s is gone.

    • profile image

      epicness 

      5 years ago

      this is very hard to detirmine, because after all, it could save other's lives, but then again, GOD says that we are specail and one of a kind and we have uniquness that sets us apart, but if I get clonedw ith someone with the same exact cells as me...

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