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The Heated Debate Concerning Stem Cell Research

2372 words - 9 pages

INTRODUCTION
Ethical issues are those issues which at a personal, community or global level challenge the reader to make decisions of what is right or good behavior. Morality however refers to codes that are held about what is right and good behavior (Engebreston, 2006). In today’s world medical research and technology is rapidly changing and there are increasing ethical conflicts between science and religion particularly with the recent harvest and research of embryonic stem cells. The use of embryonic stem cells has been described by “Chris McDonald, stem cell research centre, 2008” as one of the most significant breakthroughs of this century in biomedicine. The focus question within this research assignment is, it is right to regard an embryo as a human life and its potential outweighs that of curing someone’s life. The ethical framework used in this research assignment is Groom’s model and the three authorities examined within this issue are medical, legal and religious. This research was carried out through the use of the internet, books, media and video sources.
SPECIFIC ISSUE
It is somewhat of an irony that the discovery of cells with such a tremendous potential for improving and prolonging our own lives, should bring with it some of the most complex questions about the value of life itself. The harvesting of embryonic stem cells results in the destruction of the embryos from which they are harvested. It results, in other words, in the expiration of the very beginnings of a possible human life. (Stem cell ethics, 2009) Issues about the value of life emerge here in perhaps their most emotional form in the question of whether life for those already existing should be improved at the seeming expense of a possible human life that has just come into being. They are not brain cells or cells of the heart, or any of the other 220 different cells in the human body (Watson). The most well accepted definition of stem cells however is that they are cells that can differentiate into many other different cells. Stem cells are responsible for renewing other cells and tissues within the human body. (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2010). Individual opinions on this issue are characterized by, religious, legal and medical values and belief. These form the basis of the debate as to whether or not it is humane and ethical to destroy even one embryo for the advance of the sciences and the benefit of millions. However there is an alternative method of stem cell research which makes use of adult stem cells that are found throughout the body, including in bone marrow and hair follicles. Robert Hoffman, of the American medical research company AntiCancer Inc, and colleagues at the University of California San Diego and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said “it might someday be possible to take a person's own stem cells from hair follicles and grow a tissue transplant.” However, embryonic stem cells are still widely regarded by...

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