Molecular Biology

Arguments for and against Stem Cell Research



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Stem Cell Research Is Killing or Saving Life?

If you are anything like me, you hear of a controversial topic or conversation and you are all over itto see what the hub-bub is all about so you then have the opportunity to form your own opinion. The stem cell research debate has been around for years and turns many heads. I realized when I first paid attention to the notion of harvesting fertilized human eggs for the purpose of tests and studies that there were oh, so many factors which needed consideration before making an opinion as to where I stood. First, I had to decide if I liked the idea the "to harvest or not to harvest" question. Did there seem to be enough benefit to cover the moral cost of killing potential humans? The science is risky at best and it needs years to work itself out. There will be years of creation, destruction and funding before we are able to reap its rewards. Who should foot the bill? Someone has to pay for it all, but who?

According to dictionary.com, a stem cell is an unspecialized cell which divides into specialized cells. Scientists generally gather up stem cells from two places from the bone marrow of existing humans, and from fertilized human eggs which are generally less than a week past conception. There is some controversy about which method reaps a better sample. Each time any human egg is fertilized it divides into many daughter cells that each get their own orders for action. Some will develop into ears while others become heart valves or red blood cells or eyeballs. Simply put, a stem cell is the parent cell which becomes a big family of cells, all working together to create a human body.

Now that we know what stem cells are, we can move on to the fun part: the debate, the fight, the posturing.

You might guess that the cogitations regarding stem cell research regard the propriety of the creation of stem cells for research purposes; the moral dilemma. Well, they are. But, they ought to also include the idea of the manor of funding. President George Bush, back in 2001, passed a bill to disallow Federal funding of stem cell research. An important note he did not ban stem cell research, only the Federal funding of such. It is perfectly legal for private labs to run their stem cell research. At first glance' any Libertarian would be glad this fellow separated such an event from another drain on taxpayers' pockets. Although he did make what is, in my mind, a good decision, I believe he banned stem cell research for the wrong reason. He denied funding because of the moral implications of stem cell harvesting, not for some economic "do we spend tax-payer money in this way" type decision.

While the reasons for stem cell research are vast and promise to make many positive changes for humanity, so would eliminating 1 million of the Earth's most inept individuals. (Sounds crazy, right?) But I, as a Libertarian, oppose stem cell research the same way I oppose abortion. Aren't we killing potential humans when we create stem cells specifically for research and not procreative purposes? On the other hand, I, as a Libertarian, support stem cell research because, as parents, we all have the right to create our children and care for them. Although I would imagine that scientists who create stem cells don't think of their created stem cells as their children, I do see that there is a fine line in this, perhaps, over-simplified example. On an economic level I, as a Libertarian, also oppose Federal funding for stem cell research. Does the government really have to get involved? Isn't the sea of affluent folks willing and able to spend some of their cash in this way wide enough that there could be ample funding coming from them? Hmmm Chris Reeve? Ron Reagan? Both men, and many others, have contributed much of their breath and money to fund research for their respective causes spinal injury and Alzheimer's disease. Perhaps someone needs to make some phone calls to get some donors lined up.

I guess we can all make our informed decisions on what we believe' after we consider the entire picture which envelopes us. We have to decide if we like the main concept behind the debate to harvest or not to harvest. We then have to decide who we think should pay for all this work. You know that when the government gets involved we are going to be paying for their itemized bill-ables which will include their haircuts on the runway and tax dollars to destroy already created stem cells, rather than just working with them and not wasting them (hmmm must be another Bush-tastic). THAT was a shame.

Like moral ideas, we all have different opinions on how the government ought to spend the money they collect from us. Maybe stem cell research is an investment worth making but, in my opinion, I have not found enough evidence which leads me to agree. If you would like to donate to stem cell research there are many ways you can do this. For one, you can visit http://www.stemcellresearchfoundation.org/Give/give.htm to sign up to donate. On this site you can also learn a great deal about stem cells and how they are collected and used http://www.stemcellresearchfoundation.org/About/FAQ.htm. There are many other resources which will enable you to learn more and to donate. This is a hot topic turning up many search results when "googled". Give it a go, learn the facts, form your opinions.

To read more about President Bush's Bill which banned Federal funding of stem cell research, visit:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/07/20060719-3.html

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/07/20060719-6.html

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/07/20060719-5.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/18/AR2006071800182.html

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