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Stem Cell Research Essay

1337 words - 5 pages

Who would give up their cars, especially those living in the suburbs? However, thousands of people mourn the tragedies that occur on the roads every year. How many individuals can go without all the time-saving unrecyclables they use every day? Yet no one wants landfills in his/her area. Patients commend technological innovations in healthcare for early diagnosis. But they get very concerned when hearing about some of the possible side effects from medical advances. People have trouble accepting that technology, like everything else, presents a tradeoff. As technological advances become increasingly complex, so do the tradeoffs involved. This is especially true when ethical considerations arise such as with the embryonic stem cell debate. The number of people who could benefit from stem cell development is infinite. Nevertheless many people, in particular those with moral and religious concerns, highly question the use of embryos and biological modifications. This is not a dilemma that will be quickly resolved, especially since no one knows all the future implications. Therefore, even though many scientists and human rights activists believe stem cell research, especially embryonic, destroys human life; and that the future outcome is unknown, it must be continued to further medical progress.Stem cells are similar cells that have the ability to divide and differentiate into other cell types. Stem cells have been discovered to have the ability to generate into any cell type. Embryonic stem cells are derived from the blastocyst stage of the embryo, which contains 200 to 250 cells. Adult stem cells are derived from the umbilical cord or form blood, bone marrow, skin and other tissues. Medical researchers are interested in using stem cells to repair or replace damaged body tissue because stem cells are less likely to be rejected by the body's immune system. This is because once adult stem cells progress further, patients will be able to use their own cells which are not rejected by the immune system. The first human stem cells to be isolated and cultured were extracted by American scientists in 1998. Human stem cells have typically been extracted from surplus fertilized embryos produced during in vitro fertilization procedures. However, some embryos used have been fertilized especially to produce stem cells, which brings up the issue of cloning. In 1994 a National Institutes of Health panel argued that creating embryos for the sole purpose of extracting stem cells was justified; but Congress subsequently enacted a ban on federal financing for research involving human embryos. A few years later, the Department of Health and Human Services ruled in 1999 that the ban did not apply to financing work with stem cells. In August 2001, President George W. Bush announced that he would support federal funding of research with embryonic stem cells, but only with the estimated sixty stem cell lines existing at the time ("Stem Cell Information"). Since then,...

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