Ethical Decision On Embryonic Stem Cell Contributions

1384 words - 6 pages

If a revolution of medical technology is allowing people to obtain the best quality of life right now, why aren't we taking advantage? Scientists have discovered how to potentially cure diseases and treat all kinds of ailments. Human embryonic stem cells, though a new concept, has been debated over since the discovery in cord blood in 1978. The cause for controversy comes from the struggle between law makers, religious officials, and scientists surrounding this topic. The ethical question on why stem cells are controversial is “Is using stem cells from embryos right?” However, the question when politicians are included changes to “How can we fund research to killing potential people for their stem cells?” The definition of an embryo is altered from court case to court case to fit the need of the problem, making it more difficult to differentiate a fertilized egg from a person and halting progress to the stem cell industry. Taking into consideration the possible positive outcomes versus the sacrifice of an embryo is indeed debatable, but given a chance could have a clear answer to those ethical questions. Deciding what side of the ethical spectrum to fall under is complicated, but we ought to allow embryonic stem cell research for the sake of survival.
Deciding if it is right to use embryonic stem cells means we should understand the process of obtaining them and where they are taken from. A stem cell is an unspecialized cell that our body produces to make all of our specialized cells. There are two ways to go about stem cells, however, embryos are the most effective because of their ability to change into any form of cell. When a sperm fertilizes an egg, it is then called an embryo. The embryo then goes through several phases. Mitotic cell division occurs several times, and once the embryo is five days old it will have divided enough times to becomes a three-dimensional ball of cells called a blastocyst. The outer layer protects the center of the blastocyst’s newly formed stem cells. In a laboratory, the scientist can remove the outer layer, leaving stem cells to be collected and used in all kinds of ways. The ethical issue here is that by destroying the outer layer, that embryo is then destroyed and can not become a person. Depending on what one would consider life to be, a ball of cells does not have a heartbeat, therefore, it is not yet alive.
Deciding between life and death was a common practice for ancient philosophers, although stem cell research would have caused much debate. The sacrifice of many embryos would have to be made to achieve goals like curing cancer. So, what is the worth of embryos compared to already living, sick people? Looking at ethical theories posed by some of the world’s most influential philosophers and theories, the decision may be split. Hippocrates believed life was sacred, no matter when he thought life began, he would not support one life over another. This attitude is similar to what this nation believes...

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