It’s Time to Legalize Embryonic Stem Cell Research
In the United States of America, people have many rights and freedoms that are respected by the Federal Government. As stated in Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau: “There will never be a truly free and enlightened state until the state comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power” (225). In the goal to make America a truly free and enlightened state, laws have been enacted to preserve individual rights. With the furthering of medical science, the issue of individual rights vs. government regulation has been raised many times, and the right of the individual has always been held in the highest regard. This is why our government should both legalize and fund embryonic stem cell research.
The free choices granted us by our laws have always had certain limitations. To maintain a balance of freedom without anarchy, our laws governing individual action prevent someone from infringing on the rights of another. John Stuart Mill states in his essay “On Liberty,” that “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others” (390). Each individual should be free to voice certain opinions and practice certain activities, as long as they are doing no harm to others. For instance, we have the right to drive, but not to drive recklessly. We have the right to own a gun, but not to use that gun to murder somebody. We have the right to our own property, but not to someone else’s property. All of these laws were made to protect the rights of the individual from malicious actions of another, and it is by the power of the federal government that these laws are enforced.
What, then, should be the limit of the government’s power when it comes to our bodies?
Thoreau writes: “A government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it” (216). If the majority of the public were to decide what each individual should do in every aspect of their life, our democratic system would be nullified. Our laws are written to recognize individuals’ capability to make their own decisions. We have the right to donate our organs, and that it is our choice. We have the right to donate our entire bodies to science postmortem, and that is our choice. Couples have the right to donate their eggs and sperm for in-vitro fertilization of another couple, and that is their choice. Women have the right to decide whether they want to conceive a child or terminate a pregnancy, and that is their choice.
In each instance individuals are given the power to choose, they are not denied the opportunity, or forced into doing something they do not want to. The government does not deny your right to be an organ donor, or tell you that you have to conceive a child when another couple cannot, because we would then be practicing Totalitarianism instead of Democracy....