Advanced English Composition
15 November 2017
STEM: Stop Testing on Embryonic Man
Did you know that there are cells in our body that can come any kind of cell that they need to? In the modern era there are new technological advances popping up all over the place. One of these advances is the use of stem cells to help cure certain degenerative diseases. These stem cells usually come from aborted infants or fetuses that were not allowed to mature fully. There are many controversial views on whether this is ethical or not. Some of these are because of ignorance; not many people know where the stem cells come from. Some of the controversy is because the stem cells are believed to come from a living, fully-human baby. Using stem cells is also seen as unsafe to all the people who are involved. The use of embryonic stem cells for research is unethical because of when life starts, and the harm caused to the mother and child.
Stem cells are a controversial subject, and yet not many people know what they are or where they come from. The simple dictionary definition that Peter Crosta came up with in “What Are Stem Cells” is, “stem cells are a class of undifferentiated cells that are able to differentiate into specialized cell types” (1). This basically means that stem cells are normal, boring, little cells that can become whatever they need to, such as brain or toenail cells. An article called “Stem Cell Basics” published by The National Institutes of Health nicely explains what happens: “when a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell” (1). So that is what stem cells are, but most people still do not know where and who the stem cells come from. Mark Nash explains in his 2004 article that one way to get the stem cells starts out similar to cloning. In a lab, DNA from a donor is placed in a human egg, thereby fertilizing it, and the fetus begins to grow. The fetus is less than 14 days old when its growth is stopped. The outer layer meant to keep the embryo alive is pulled off, and the remaining clump of stem cells is placed in a petri dish to resume growth. The donor DNA can also come from sperm that was donated (1). Jay Johansen notes in “What’s Wrong with Embryonic Stem Cell Research” that “at least one company, the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine of Norfolk, Virginia, is now fertilizing embryos in the laboratory using donated sperm and eggs” (2). These embryos are for the sole purpose of producing stem cells to be researched on. There are reports that the women are paid for their eggs, but mostly the men are not paid for their sperm (Johansen, 2-3). Once people understand the background on stem cell production, they can start to understand the controversy.
The biggest controversy in this argument is whether or not the...