Molecular Biology

Arguments for and against Stem Cell Research

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"Arguments for and against Stem Cell Research"
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What if the most important aspects of life were taken away? For example, imagine two ordinary human beings that are exactly alike at the beginning. One will grow up and have all of the rights and privileges a human gets in life. The other human being will never get to experience the important things like love, friendship, and success. He will never have the chance to make his own decisions, but will have all of his decisions made by a stranger. Is this fair? Both of these human beings are in their thirty-fourth day of development. Both look and act identical to how every human looked and acted at their thirty-fourth day of development. The first is implanted in a woman while the other is tested on and then discarded without another thought once it has no more use. Everyone as a human beings have all of the rights and protections a human has, including the simple act of making your own decisions. Shouldn't both of these human beings who are identical to the way every human being was at one point in their life have all of the same rights and protections in life? Stem Cell Research must be banned in order to protect basic human rights.

Stem Cells are cells that have the potential to develop into all other cells and tissues in the body. These cells are usually taken from human embryos. The human embryos then have experiments done on them. There are three different ways to obtain these embryos. The first source of human embryos is the "left-over" embryos that will not be used at fertility clinics. The second source is creating human embryos for the only purpose of research. The third source is to obtain the human embryos through cloning. Stem Cell Research is not illegal in the United States, but federal funding for the research is extremely limited. Supporters of expanded stem cell research see the issue from a medical stand point and argue that it could lead to therapies and cures for diseases. Opponents see the issue from an ethical point of view. They believe that it is ethically and morally unacceptable to perform research on embryos because it means a human life must be destroyed.
When desperate for money, people will do just about anything they have to in order to get it even if the way they go about it is illegal. This could mean selling drugs, or even selling oneself. Both of these practices are illegal and yet it they happen every day. In our world today there is a demand for drugs and a demand for sex. Someone who needs money will recognize this need and use it to their advantage. If stem cell research was made completely legal and federally funded, there would be another valuable that would be in high demand in like manner to drugs and sex. That valuable would be human embryos. With increased funds for stem cell research, a steady supply of human embryos will be needed. Once this new need is recognized, it too will be used by people in order to get the money that they need. The legalization and funding of stem cell research make scientists fear the opening of an illegal market for human embryos which will give people yet another option for illegally and immorally obtaining money.

At the eighth week of development, the embryo that a scientist may be researching on looks very little like a human being. It cannot think nor does it have emotions, yet this embryo is indeed a human being. Anyone who sees this scientist would say that he was a human being, thus being a human life. At the eighth week of development, this scientist was almost identical to the embryo he is now researching on. Therefore, this embryo is also a human life.

Is there still doubt that the embryo is not a human life? A different illustration may suffice. Being "human by nature" can be defined as having human DNA and being alive. Three main points against embryos being human lives are that the embryo does not look like a human, is not capable of reproducing, and cannot remain alive on its own, in others words it depends on its mother for survival. There is a person who was involved in a car accident now lying in a coma in a hospital. This person has lost his arms and legs. This person has also lost his genitalia. This person does not resemble a human, nor does this person capable of reproduction, nor can he survive on his own but is dependant on something other than himself to keep him alive. Yet, isn't this person still considered a human by nature thus making this person a human life? Yes. The answer, from anyone, will always be yes. The reason this answer is yes is that this person has human DNA and is alive. A human embryo obviously does not contain dog or cat DNA. It contains human DNA and it is alive regardless of the face that it is depending on its mother.

A supporter of stem cell research may say that the "greater good" of helping suffering people overrides moral values. Though the phrase "greater good" may sound appealing, it is the same phrase that was used by a man named Adolf Hitler. It is highly doubted that a supporter of stem cell research is also in support of Hitler and the Jewish Holocaust. Yet, there reasoning for what they believe comes from the same foundation. It comes down to the fact that we are just not free to pursue good ends via unethical means. The intentional destruction of some human beings for the so called good of other human beings is wrong and unethical. If laws are passed promoting stem cell research on human embryos it will just be repeating the mistakes of the past.

"Learn from your mistakes." This is a theme that has floated in and out of History since the very beginning of time. In the nineteenth century, the most vulnerable of human beings were bought and sold and forced to work like animals. In the twentieth century, vulnerable human beings were imprisoned and killed and subjected to medical experimentation in concentration camps such as Auschwitz. At mid-century vulnerable African-Americans in Alabama were subjected to government funded research of the effects of syphilis. Even currently, mental patients are suffering under abuse as subjects in experimental research. Almost all of these different acts against human beings and their rights have resulted in policies and laws protecting the rights and freedoms of all human beings. Every single incident listed has been an immoral and unjust act against the basic rights of human beings. And with each law that is passed to prevent these catastrophes from occurring again, the threat is lessened and lessened.

Right now, as a people and a culture, we are facing another act against basic human rights. That act is stem cell research. But there are a few differences. All of these wrong acts were made against the vulnerable human beings of the time. Human embryos are the most vulnerable human beings of this time and of time to come. Although the threat against human rights has continued to be lessened, the threat has obviously never completely gone away. The threat was only lessened because laws were made. If laws are never made against stem cell research, it will just open the door for other acts against human rights. If it shown that we as people are legally and morally capable of taking advantage of the most vulnerable human beings there are, then it can not be said that it is immoral for the imprisoned Jews of Auschwitz to be experimented on because those Jews can actually do something to defend themselves unlike the human embryos. If it is violating human rights to experiment on a human that can defend itself then it is most certainly violating human being rights to experiment on a human being that can do absolutely nothing to defend itself. These mistakes of history must be learned from, otherwise we face the threat of basic human rights.

Remember the two human beings that were exactly alike at first? Remember the one that never got a chance? That human being could have grown up to be a great world leader or discover a cure for HIV. However, because this human being became nothing but a "left-over," it never got a chance to become anything more than an involuntary research project. Just like the vulnerable concentration camp prisoners who were put through Nazi medical experiments without consent, these developing human beings are also vulnerable and should be protected. If we allow stem cell research to continue, all human rights in general are threatened. How far will the violation of these rights go? The violation will continue to go farther and farther until something is finally done to end it.

More about this author: Daley Schimmelpfennig

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