Against stem cell research essays

Kerry supports expanding federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research and opposes limiting the research to old batches of the cells. The distortions are fueled, in part, by the sheer complexity of the topic. Yet scientists say that the deepest source of public confusion is the fact that the political debate is being waged long before scientists know the answers to many of the most basic questions in stem cell biology, much less which avenues will result in actual treatments. Yet the science is just too new to say what diseases might be helped more by adult or embryonic stem cell research or by neither.

For decades, doctors have been transplanting bone marrow, which contains adult stem cells that form the cells in the blood, to treat certain cancers and other immune and blood-related diseases, such as sickle cell anemia. But scientists are far from showing that adult stem cells can treat a wide range of other diseases. Embryonic stem cells, by contrast, have the natural ability to become any type of cell in the body and offer a unique tool for understanding human development.

But scientists have only just begun to experiment with human embryonic stem cells, which were discovered in Prentice, a former biology professor at Indiana State University, defended his Senate testimony, saying that he was delivering facts about research that has been obscured by the attention given to embryonic stem cells.

And most stem cell specialists agree that adult stem cells are a vital area of research, underappreciated by the public, that could lead to a wealth of new treatments. The public, understandably, wants to hear about cures for the scourge of degenerative diseases. Scientists would like nothing more than to find these cures. But, Zon and other scientists said, the history of medical research is very clear on one point: Nobody can say today whether any particular advance is the first step toward revolutionary treatments or an alluring dead end.

Verfaillie can remember the thrill that came over her in her laboratory as she realized that she might have a spectacular discovery on her hands, the kind of huge, surprising leap forward that can lead to a Nobel Prize. Taken from bone marrow, in the soft core of bones, it was an adult stem cell that seemed to hold the potential to develop into virtually any tissue in the body, a power that scientists previously believed could be found only in stem cells harvested from human embryos.

In , when the results became public, they caused a sensation. If verified, these new cells might give doctors the ability to repair a wide variety of tissues without the ethical questions that bedevil embryonic work. Beginning with a batch of stem cells thought to make only tissues such as bone, cartilage, and fat, Verfaillie was able to coax some of the cells, the MAPCs, into becoming surprising tissues, such as brain and liver.

Scientists believe that the cells of the body form a kind of family tree, with the embryonic stem cell at the trunk and most of the multitude of cells that make up the body at the tips of the branches. In the very beginning, when a human embryo is just days old, the body begins its development as a formless mass of cells that are called pluripotent, because they have the potential to become any cell. When these cells are removed from an embyro and grown in a laboratory dish, they are referred to as embryonic stem cells.

Then, as the embryo develops, different cells start to travel down different branches in the family of cells, becoming more specialized, and less flexible, in a process called commitment.

Stem Cell Research is Bad

Stem cells that are partway down one of these branches are called adult stem cells, because they are destined to become specific types of tissue in the adult and are thought to have lost the full potential of embryonic stem cells. Thus, there are many kinds of adult stem cells, each capable of repairing only the tissue they are destined to become. However, researchers have isolated only a limited number of types of adult stem cells, and some organs may lose all of their adult stem cells by the time they have finished developing, meaning that adult stem cells could not be used to treat those organs.

Around the time that Verfaillie was doing her initial research, other scientists began publishing papers that challenged this paradigm, arguing instead that seemingly committed adult stem cells could naturally transform themselves into types of cells in distant parts of the cellular family tree, giving the body a hitherto unrecognized power to regenerate. But more recent experiments, in some cases by the same scientists, have reversed most of these findings.

In , for example, a stunning paper in the journal Nature indicated that bone marrow cells could transform into heart muscle, offering hope for treating heart disease. But this spring, two papers in the same journal suggested that the original research was wrong. Similar claims for bone marrow cells transforming into brain cells, liver cells, and others have also been reversed. Irving Weissman of Stanford University, one of the founding fathers of stem-cell science and cofounder of two companies that work with adult stem cells.

She begins with cells from the bone marrow, but then puts them in lab dishes where the cells can grow and multiply. Then, for more than a month, she repeatedly transfers the cells from one lab dish to another to prevent the cells from growing too densely. This process seems to slowly kill off most kinds of cells, but leaves behind a population of the special cells she wants, something like burning down a haystack to find the needle.

The first pertains to what has been called the moral doctrine of double effect, which stipulates that it is never acceptable to utilize a morally unacceptable action as a means toward achieving a moral end, no matter how good that end may be. Pro-life supporters argue the destruction of the embryo would be morally unacceptable, and it would thus not be acceptable to use it as a means toward the alleviation of suffering. Secondly, it must be remembered that within the context of the argument under consideration, the embryo is in fact conceptualized as an actual human being.

Stem cells in therapy

Insofar as this is the case, then the same objections could be raised against destroying embryos in order to alleviate the suffering that could be raised against murdering one group of people in order to alleviate the suffering of another group of people. It is unclear whether the embryo is an actual human being.

However, it can at least be acknowledged that insofar as some starting point for life must be identified, conception does not seem to be an especially bad one. This is for the conceptual reason that the distinction between life and non-life must be a qualitative one; and whereas every distinction between fetal stages after conception is merely quantitative or a difference of degree and not of kind , the moment of conception itself could be understood as a qualitative jump. Moreover, as Percy has observed, "it is commonplace in biology. The idea that the embryo is a living human being is thus at the very least fully defensible on rational grounds; and at any rate, it cannot be categorically dismissed on purely rational grounds.

Another element of the argument against stem cell research pertains to the problem of playing God. Essentially, the concern here is that with stem cell research, scientists are beginning to delve into a morally dangerous area insofar as they are exploring knowledge that has to do with the very origins of life itself. In the Bible, the opening chapter of Genesis clearly delineates how God created the world and all life within the world see New Jerusalem Bible.

So, if human beings gain knowledge pertaining to the origins of life, then there is a significant moral danger that they will begin to usurp the role of God and themselves become the masters of life.

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Of course, this is only a problem from the perspective of a religious believer: from the perspective of an atheist or secularist, the seat of God is vacant anyway, and there would thus be no problem with human beings moving to fill it. In America, however, there is an enormous number of traditional religious believers, and the problem of playing God would clearly have a great deal of significance and salience for them. Moreover, it is worth noting that this line of argument is not necessarily absurd.

Stem Cell Research is Bad an Example of the Topic Education and science by

As James has lucidly demonstrated, the question of faith cannot in fact be determined on purely rational grounds. Of course, some people may argue otherwise; but this would only mean that they have become so convinced of their own faith that they no longer even recognize it as a faith, believing instead that they are being "objective" whereas it is only other people who are still subject to faith.

For present purposes, the important thing to understand is that the concern regarding playing God is just as logically cogent as the proposition that God does not exist and that there is no problem with playing Him. It is impossible to rationally prove that these Christian ethics are correct. But, by the same token, it would also be inappropriate to dismiss the concern as completely meaningless.

In other words, this is a coherent mode of argumentation, insofar as the people who oppose stem cell research on these grounds are logically on par with those who support research on the basis of different "religious" beliefs. Building off of the previous two elements of the argument against stem cell research, a third element pertains to what can be called the relationship between stem cell research and the culture of life.

As Rice has discussed, the culture of life is predominantly a Catholic religious concept, although it has gained traction with other cultural conservatives within the United States as well; and the concept refers to a general ethos, or attitude, that can be applied to a range of contemporary political issues. The basic gist of the concept is that all phases of the human lifecycle, from conception to natural death, are sacred, due to the fact that life ought to be given a take by God alone and not by human beings.

This position has implications for a broad range of issues, including abortion, euthanasia, and stem cell research. The point here may not be so much whether or not one believes in God; rather, the point may pertain to what one accepts as one's fundamental ethical criterion. As the philosopher Shestov has argued, there has been an intellectual struggle since the beginning of Western civilization between the idea that life can be controlled and evaluated by reason on the one hand, and accepting life as an a priori given that serves as its own criterion on the other.

The concept of the culture of life ties the issue of stem cell research into a broader constellation of related issues.

Sample Essay Against Stem Cell Research and Cloning

For example, one could argue that embryos "left over" from fertility treatments should be made available for stem cell research since they would go to "waste" anyway. Such a statement would be horrendous; and if anything, the conclusion that would be implied is not the moral acceptability of embryonic stem cell research but rather the moral unacceptability of fertility treatments that will almost certainly result in the destruction of embryos. There is nothing inherently incoherent about this train of thought; much the opposite, it holds together in a remarkably cohesive way.

The issue, of course, would be that the fundamental premises of the argument are often drawn from faith, which means that the argument is unlikely to meet with general or universal acceptance. One key implication of the discussion above is that the argument against stem cell research is in fact a lucid one within the context of its premises, and that attempts to suggest otherwise are likely motivated not by the coherence of the argument as such but rather by a fundamental disagreement regarding initial premises.

One issue at stake is not all stem cell research is connected to cloning or immoral actions. Some research actually implies the smaller use of stem cells found in adult bodies. Take stem cell research used in dentistry. This technique is used to help regrow teeth, use stem cells found in bone marrow, and includes studies not attributed to aborted embryos.

Moreover, another implication is that it is quite unlikely that disagreements over the morality of stem cell research will ever be resolved on purely rational grounds. This is for the simple reason that the argument against stem cell research just like the argument for stem cell research is ultimately motivated by theological assumptions. This is not meant to imply a weakness in the argument in favor of stem cell research or the argument against stem cell research; rather, it is virtually inevitable that such assumptions will have to be made whatever one's position , given the nature of the subject matter at hand and the way that the issue touches on some of the most profound mysteries of human existence.

In summary, this essay has discussed the argument against stem cell research; and it has focused on three main elements of the argument. These were:. All elements of the argument are animated by fundamental assumptions about the nature of life, of God, and of the role of the human being within the world. These assumptions, however, do not necessarily discredit the argument against stem cell research; and this is because the argument on the other side merely tends to make the converse assumptions, which are equally unjustified on strictly rational grounds.

In short, it can be suggested that whatever position one takes on stem cell research, one's perspective is informed not by reason alone but by one's broader worldview.

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James, William. John J. Stuhr, ed.

New York: Oxford University Press. McIntyre, Allison. Percy, Walker. Rice, Charles E. Robertson, John A.