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Should Embryonic Stem Cell Research Be Federally Funded?

1693 words - 7 pages

The possibility to cure Alzheimer, Parkinson’s, AIDS, spinal injuries, and many more diseases and conditions is received by many in the medical world with excitement and anticipation. The discoveries of embryonic stem, ES, cells in 1998 by James A. Thomson, a biologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, was a great breakthrough for the medical world, showing great promise in the field of stem cell research. This is because they have the capacity to become any type of cell tissue in the body. To the medical world the opportunities seems endless. However, there is a great deal of debate by some who question the moral and ethical use of ES cells, believing that life begins at fertilization. Supporters argue that we have an obligation to help others who are suffering by using ES cells, because they are consider potential life. The question is do we have the right to use ES cells for research purposes when the embryos will be grown specifically for research and destruction? And if so, should this research be funded by the government?
First of all, what are ES cells and how can they help us? ES cells are non-specialized cells found in the human body and are capable of multiplying and creating all types of specific cells. ES cells are developed in an in vitro fertilization clinic and not in a woman’s womb, as the name seems to indicate. Because these cells have the ability to develop into any type of cell, the research potential for ES cells is very promising. If the correct genes can be turned on they could regenerate tissue cells that are incapable or too damaged to replace themselves. Or they can be used to find and correct genetic defects or degenerative diseases. ES cells offer a promising future to many people even if that future may still be quite distant. However, because ES cell research uses genetic material that is used to create life it has been overflowing with debate.
This controversy has been around for years. And for years each side has been immovable in their conviction. Those who oppose ES cell research believe it is wrong because it involves the destruction of embryos. This blatant disregard for human life makes many people who oppose ES cell research uncomfortable and outraged. Many believe that since we all started out as embryos and we have certain rights then it would follow that all embryos have certain rights and a respect owed to them (Sansom). Using embryos for research and then destroying or discarding them is equivalent to taking the life of a human at the beginning of its life.
Opponents further argue that there is other stem cell research that has already shown promise with the use adult stem cells and cord stem cells. Using adult stem cell, scientists have found a way to reprogram stem cells found in the skin, reversing the cell back to an embryonic stage (Sample). And a more recently study used cord stem cells, stem cells taken from an umbilical cord or the placenta, which were used to reprogram immune system T...

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