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Embryonic Stem Cell Research: An Ethics Debate

977 words - 4 pages

The past two decades have seen enormous scientific development that has grown exponentially and continues to evolve daily. More advances have been discovered within the past twenty years than at any other time in human history. This advancement has been increasingly prevalent in human genetics and the study of embryonic stem cells. One can hardly watch television or read a newspaper without seeing or reading something about the discovery of an innovative medical procedure or new treatment for an incurable disease. Though quite complicated, very simply put, embryonic stem cell research is the study of cells retrieved from embryos in the first few days of development—the blastocyst stage—which are called totipotent cells. These embryos are scientifically engineered in a lab usually for the purpose of IVF—in-vitro fertilization—and rarely manufactured for the sole purpose of science. Once harvested for study, the cell extraction destroys the embryo thus leaving the nucleus non-viable and unable to sustain life. While some maintain that embryonic stem cell research is an unethical procedure, others argue that exploring stem cells is vital to the future of medicine.
On one side of this heated debate are groups and individuals that oppose the research so much that they refer to it as a form of abortion. In their eyes, an embryo is the same as a fetus regardless if the cells are implanted in a uterus or conceived in a petri dish. The embryo to them, is deserving of a life and should either be preserved or placed in a uterus in hopes of having a chance to develop into a viable fetus. However, one of the foremost areas of the argument concerns religion, specifically Catholicism. The teachings of the Church include and explicitly state that “From the moment of conception, the life of every human being is to be respected in an absolute way…” as well as, “human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized” (Shannon). When read this way the viewpoint of the Church is clear, even if one disagrees, the Church stands firmly by its belief in the value of life at all stages.
As mentioned above, the Catholic Church is one of the largest groups opposing the research of embryonic stem cells, believing it to be immoral and nonconforming to the Catholic way of life. The Church disagrees with birth control in any form, so it is easy to understand their opposition of destroying an embryo for the sake of science. Sharing similar beliefs, there are several groups against this research including the ACU—American Conservation Union—who believe that if, as a society we engage in embryonic stem cell research then in turn we advocate abortion, which they are wholly against. The National Right to Life Committee is much like the ACU in regards to their belief and opposition toward embryonic stem cell research. One of the opinions that the National Right to Life...

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