Stem Cell Research specifically the preparation of stem cells for use in the development, control and elimination of human embryos is considered one of the major breakthroughs in biology. Although evolution in science plays a great role in impacting mankind, our environment, and our view of the world, it is always questioned. Typically, there has been a debate on the authenticity of the Embryonic Stem Cell Research because of the ethical issues that arose in the process of this research.This paper will look into the details of stem cell research with an aim of identifying the pros and cons of it. By the end of the discussion, the controversy that rages on concerning the ethics of biological research in general will be understood.
Stem cells are cells inside a tissue which have the unique capability of generating a new cell of a new form. They all begin as undifferentiated cells but with the right chemical nature and genetic organization. Stem cells can form specialized cells of varying makeup relating to their size or shape. Further, the same stem cells can give rise to highly specialized cells like liver cells that are essential for the normal functioning of the organ. With this in mind, the same unspecialized cells given a different chemical signal could go on to become specialized heart muscle cells that help in blood circulation.
Recently, scientists have come up with research specifically to find out the fundamental cells which stimulate the development of various organisms. The specimens grow in labs and are monitored closely to discover basic properties of the cells. For instance, embryonic stem cell research involved taking a tissue from an embryo right after conception for proper study and analysis. Definitely, the scientists mean good because they do it with a sincere dream to better human life. However, a lot of questions will arise concerning the efficacy of the embryonic stem cell research.
Ideally, the safest means of getting embryo cells is through abortion. Once an embryo is aborted a few weeks after conception, the cells are harvested for research. However, this practice is not ethical as it deprives an embryo of life. Abortion is an issue too dubious — emotions are involved whenever it is a topic of discussion. In the United States, research facilities conducting embryonic stem cell research faced turbulent times during George W. Bush’s administration: the use of federal funds for it was prohibited. When President Obama came into power, he tried to lift the restrictions taking his responsibility for it. The debate on the ethics of the science is still stirred. Nevertheless, a recent poll that most Americans back embryonic stem cell Research — and for several reasons.
Firstly, stem cell research offers numerous medical possibilities that were not even thought of earlier. For instance, the cancer menace can be solved through further research. Cancer comes about due to the multiplication of problematic cells which replicate and cause damage to other cells. With the discovery of this concept, perhaps the scientists can discover how to curb the sudden surge in the growth of cancer cells. Scientists identified that embryonic cells are similar to cancer cells in terms of how they develop.
Secondly, the stem cell research can be applied in cell therapy. We have identified the possibility of a stem cell multiplying itself from a simple structure with no specialized feature to a cell that can perform untold application. Well, scientists are currently going through the study to identify how stem cells from, say, the liver can be extracted to be used in another organ (for example, the heart). However, intensive research must be done, requiring a huge chunk of the Federal Reserve. If it happens, a cure for a lot of illnesses may be found, thus making life more comfortable. More than a half of the poll participants believe that lack of federal funding for stem cell research would leave the United States far behind other states in developing new treatment and dealing with health issues: the data provided by the scientists has already proved the effectiveness of the method. Certainly, stem cell research is very advantageous, because, with its acceptance and implementation, untold medical possibilities will become a reality. Imagine the possibility of growing a cell to replace a fractured or burnt cell.
However, despite the fact that the advantages of embryotic stem cell research are acknowledged by almost all groups of population (with both Republicans and Democrats and most Catholics and born-again Christians), there exist a lot of cons that have sparked a huge controversy concerning the stem cells research. First, there are many ethical issues concerning how the cells are acquired. For embryonic stem cell research, a cell has to be harvested from an embryo just after conception. Currently, the only method to do this is abortion. Many activists have come in to advance the infringement of the right to life on the unborn baby.
Religious bodies and people who hold firm beliefs in God tend to oppose the scientists’ attempts to “play God”, claiming that what they do is not in tandem with His wishes. In many religions, scientists cannot create life. In addition to this, most religious people do not like the idea of the stem cells being extracted from human embryos. They consider it to be an act of taking life away, which is a deadly sin. Morally, this is not right. But the society is becoming more secular, and these problems can be resolved through discussion and mutual agreement.
Furthermore, there are numerous bioethical issues involved herein that ought to be considered. For instance, there is a high risk of development of complications in bodies with stem cells incorporated in them, because human beings are very different and the composition of one’s cell is different from that of another person. For instance, medical risks of the procedure include ovarian hyperstimulation, bleeding due to incompatibility, infections due to injection of foreign substances into an organ, or even organ dysfunction. To evade this risk, it is often advised that researchers should present a detailed report of performed preclinical studies with their side effects. Perhaps this can be achieved by doing a research on animals with related genetic composition on human beings.
Still, this raises yet another question. The shortage of human stem cells has made some scientists consider using animal cells to sustain their experiments. They will select an animal whose genetic composition is very close to the human one. However, this practice will not be generally accepted, because an idea of hybrid experimentation is still appalling to many. Further, others will feel that there is a disruption in the natural order, and as such, natural law proponents would be vigorously opposed to this practice.
The controversy as to whether we should accept stem cell research still rages on. Various countries have legislated against this due to the moral issues and possible dangers that could accrue to the parties. They are motivated as well by the alternatives to embryonic stem cell research that employ the same concept. They include somatic cell nuclear transfer, multipotent stem cells as well as fetal stem cells research. However, some countries with advanced technological and scientific maturity have actually accepted the practice and legislated for it. This is because scientists have proved the fact that against the backdrop of the cons, there are numerous pros that, if used appropriately, would tremendously improve the human lives and make a significant contribution towards expanding the medical possibilities to the completely new levels.
In conclusion, in analyzing the bioethical issues involved in the experimentation of stem cell research, we have to note the fact that a breakthrough of the research could bring forth unlimited possibilities. Medical solutions would be found. Cancer menace would actually be a thing of the past. Perhaps humans would then appreciate science in a better way. Imagine the possibility of treating a terminal illness due to the advancements the scientists make. However, until this happens, a lot of justified opposition still abounds. We have identified the moral and ethical issues intertwined with this stem cell research and noted that indeed, there still going to be those against the advancement, though the expectations of the opponents’ numbers reducing are justified. The most important issue to be considered now is that there are possible medical side effects of the method. With this in mind, a balance ought to be attained.