The great controversy with stem cell research is the fine line defining what constitutes "life" or even more specifically, when one becomes a "human being". Opponents of funding stem cell research believe destroying embryonic stem cells are the equivalent of murder. There is of course, the complex moral, religious, and scientific dilemma involved in deciding the issue. The religious and moral purists believe life' begins at conception possibly based on a passage in the Judeo-Christian Bible, the Old Testament (Jeremiah 1:5) which states, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. . . "
One could debate whether the verse in question can be used as a declaration of when life begins, and consequently the answer remains elusive. Instead of trying to make laws pertaining to the infallibility in human understanding of Divine prerogatives, why not simply observe the Law of Nature. During the onset of female ovulation, countless microscopic ovum are produced and if not penetrated by a single male sperm cell, fertilization cannot take place. Nature only uses what it needs to fulfill its purpose and the rest is discarded. Human females typically, but not always, undergo a monthly cycle of menstruation where unfertilized eggs are eliminated from the body during this time or period. Even when fertilization takes place, at what stage does the organism have "life," or more specifically, when does it become human? Does a fetus or embryonic tissue demonstrate intelligence, self-awareness (sentience), thinking and reasoning abilities or personhood?
To preserve cells from previously discarded placenta strictly for medical research leading to possible cures for diseases doesn't seem, at least on the surface, immoral or unethical. Unfortunately, as it is with most things, this could lead to the harvesting, cultivation, marketing of embryonic tissue, and securing patents for intellectual property and experiments leading to the eventual cloning of humans as well as other higher life forms. This is the slippery slope for scientific breakthroughs and the almost instinctive fear of this future state-of-affairs is a legitimate one. One can only hope that this emerging Brave New World doesn't end up like the slogan, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."