Vocabulary:

Pro-Life- A group that raises awareness of the injustice of abortion.

Pluripotent- Capable of differentiating into different types of body cell.

DebilitatingTo weaken or enfeeble.

HHSDepartment of Health and Human Services.

NIHNational Institutes of Health.

Abortions- The removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy.

National Marrow Donars Program- A program that allows people to donate bone marrow.

IVFIn Vitro Fertalization.

 


 Stem Cells


Removing a stem cell

 

Embryonic Stem cell

 

 Ethical Issues:

           Scientists study stem cells with the intent to prolong the lives of individuals. In order to do this, they must first conduct tests ensuring its effectiveness. The embryotic stem cell is one of the many different types of stem cells that scientists study. It is also the main type of stem cell that scientists receive the most complaints about.

Cons:

            When studying the embryotic stem cells, a scientist has to destroy the entire embryotic cell I n order to acquire the embryotic stem cells. One group, the pro-life group, has members that are concerned with the rights of the embryo as an early-aged human life. They believe it “violates the sanctity of life” and some “view it as tantamount to murder” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell_controversy). According to Julian Savulescu, embryotic stem cells are“liable to abuse. It violates a persons right to individuality, autonomy, self-hood” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell_controversy). Pro-life supporters often argue that more advancements have come from the use of adult stem cells. Thus, more progress in adult stem cells could be made if the money and resources were focused towards them rather than embryotic stem cells. The fundamental viewpoint of the activists working against the study of embryotic stem cell is that human life, no matter what stage, is sacred and not meant to be destroyed.

Pros:

             However, medical researchers believe that the study of embryotic stem cells “has the potential to dramatically alter approaches to understanding and treating diseases, to alleviate suffering...[and to] treat a variety of diseases and impairments” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell_controversy). In August 2000, The U.S. National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Guidelines stated: “...research involving human pluripotent stem cells...promises new treatments and possible cures for many debilitating diseases and injuries, including Parkinson's disease, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, burns and spinal cord injuries. The NIH believes the potential medical benefits of human pluripotent stem cell technology are compelling and worthy of pursuit in accordance with appropriate ethical standards." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell_controversy).

Legal Issues:

           When President Bush took office in January, 2001, he announced he would conduct a review of the stem cell research issue and ordered the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to review the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) guidelines issued by the former administration. During this period, NIH suspended its review of applications from researchers seeking federal funds to perform human embryonic stem cell research. On August 9, 2001, President Bush announced that federal funds would be available to support limited human embryonic stem cell research. The new policy provides that federal funds may be used for research on 64 existing stem cell lines that have already been derived or were already in existence as of the date of the announcement. In identifying the 64 stem cell lines as being eligible for federal funding, the President said these embryos, from which the existing stem cell lines were created, had been destroyed previously and could not develop as human beings.

Social Issues:

         The largest social issue is the lack of knowledge behind stem cells. For example, the first reaction to stem cell research is that "you have to get them from abortions" (Yahoo Web Site). First, adult stem cells are donate by "volunteers who sign informed consent. For example, the National Marrow Donors Program" (Yahoo Web Site).  Some stem cells are retrieved through bone marrow and people donate marrow and other blood stem cells every single day with no more harm than a couple weeks of inconvenience.
            Next, embryonic stem cells don't come from abortion. They come from embryos "discarded from IVF clinics. In Vitro Fertalization is a fertility treatment that kills millions of embryos in and of itself"(Yahoo Web Site). The woman's eggs are harvested, fertilized with sperm and then frozen. The freezing and unfreezing process kills some of the embryos and with each menstrual cycle, several embryos at a time are inserted into the uterus hoping that even one will implant. It usually takes several cycles to get one to implant, killing all the inserted embryos that weren't implanted. The embryos that the research is conducted on, are the embryos that are "destroyed after the woman had had her children and no longer wants to pay to store the embryos"(Yahoo Web Site). Stem cell research isn't what is killing them, IVF is whats killing them. But most people don't know that.

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