Panacea- n. a cure for all ills, a universal remedy [Webster’s 724]. Embryonic stem cell research has been one of the most heavily and intensely debated topics in the past five to ten years. Although it is not literally a cure for all sicknesses, it holds the key to the most exciting medical advances in the last 100 years. The controversy surrounding stem cell research is such a huge deal because of the moral dilemma surrounding it. There is no doubt that everybody would like to have cures for ailments ranging from paralysis to Alzheimer’s but they must be willing to side with science for the betterment of mankind.
Too many people form an opinion on stem cell research without understanding what it is. In the 1960’s, Canadian scientists Ernest McCulloh and James Till discovered the idea of stem cells. A human embryo starts out as a blastocyst, which a formation of a hollow ball of cells [Firpo par.3]. The cells then develop into specialized cells. Each group of specialized cells has specific jobs in the human body. The groups of cells continue to divide and grow into similar cells. Embryonic stem cells are special because as embryo, they have not yet become specialized. This means they have the ability to divide into any type of specialized cell. In other words, embryonic stem cells are heart cells, brain cells, skin cells, or any other type of cell. In 1998, when Wisconsin biologist James Thomson successfully isolated and grew embryonic stem cells, it became a realistic possibility that these stem cells could be used for possible cures to vast numbers of diseases [Haymer 3]. It was then thought that the potentials of stem cell research were unlimited.
The controversy surrounding stem cell research is such a big deal that it even has an influence in our country’s political elections. Are embryos human beings? A human embryo does not think, breathe, or love. It is a group of cells that show zero characteristics of a human being. Dr. Dolores Dooley and his Irish Council for Bioethics found that embryos lacked “full moral status” [Irish Times par.3]. With more research, people may no longer have to worry about the possibility of “killing a human being”.
“In January 2002, researches […] announced a development that they said might avoid the ethical problems raised by embryonic stem cell research. […] they induced an unfertilized monkey egg to grow into a blastocyst. Because the blastocyst contained no genes from a male monkey, it had no chance of developing into a complete monkey. The scientists then extracted stem cells from the unusual blastocyst. They said that if this same procedure could be duplicated with human eggs, it might enable researches to obtain embryonic stem cells from an embryo that had no potential of ever becoming a complete human being. In this way, they argue, there would be no destruction of human life.” [Haymer 6].
There were even people upset when newly elected President Barack...