Morality of Amniotic Tissue Research
It seems that there is always new groundbreaking technology introduced into society. Our hope is to find some magical chemical that will cure all diseases or cancer. Imagine that a miracle substance was found but came, at what some may think is to high a price. Amniotic tissue is remarkable in its healing abilities, however, many think it is wrong to utilize the tissue since it is taken from aborted fetuses and embryos. Are the research processes of fetal tissue in direct conflict with our moral values, or is it negligent for us not to do research that might lead to cures for Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.
Stem cells are like clay, featureless and dull; but they can morph into blood, skin, bone or any of the body’s replaceable tissues. They also have the gift of self-renewal which, to curb the risk of cancer, is withdrawn from all the body’s mature cells. Embryonic stem cells are created in the first stages of the embryos development; from them, all the bodies tissues and organs are generated. Once the body is formed, the embryonic stem cells disappear, leaving only a few descendents to help keep the body healthy. These descendents, often called adult stem cells, lack the embryonic stem cell’s power of generating any and all of the body’s tissues. (Wade)
After years of funding from Geron, two research teams announced simultaneously last fall that they had finally isolated embryonic stem cells. One team retrieved the cells from young embryos and the other from immature sex organs of aborted fetuses. Preliminary evidence from research on mice suggests that stem cells obtained from embryos may have medical advantages over those isolated from aborted fetuses. (Weiss)
Human embryonic stem cells carry an ethical burden in that they are derived by destroying an embryo, although it would otherwise be discarded by the fertility clinic where it was created. The Embryo at this stage has no fetus-like features; it is a microscopic sphere of cells that holds an inner clump of cells waiting to form all the tissues of the embryo (MacLean). These cells, grown in the laboratory for the first time in 1998, were approved for use by government-supported researchers in August after sustained opposition from opponents of abortion. (Wade)
The use of aborted fetuses for research also has created a stir in the world of abortion politics Many pro-life supporters, such as Eileen Hofer, believe that by allowing research on fetal tissue research more women will have abortions. However, the research does not affect whether or not an abortion will occur. A 1997 General Accounting Office study confirmed that longstanding guidelines prevent the decision to donate tissue from influencing the decision whether to have an abortion in the first place (Samuelson). For example, tissue donors are prohibited from deciding who will receive a tissue transplant and outlaws payment to women who decide to donate.