Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding

Introduction

In recent years, medical science has made a great leap toward the development of cures for incurable diseases. A fear of the misuse of scientific knowledge has marked many of the debates. In contrast to tradition medicine, the main advantage of stem-cell research is that doctors will be able to target the causes of a disease rather than simply treating its symptoms. The medical benefits of research are sufficient to justify and support the research in order to cure millions of people around the world. Embryonic stem cell research should be federally funded because this research and further developments in this field will help many people to treat incurable disease and preserve their health.

Thesis

The main benefits of the embryonic stem ceil research are that stem-cell investigation holds medical benefits which could improve human health. These include treatments for cancer, hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, regeneration of human tissues in severe burns and spinal cord injuries, and bone marrow renewal for patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy. Embryonic stem-cell research gives people possibilities of maximizing life span and improving their health. In spite of the fact that “embryonic stem cells are often unstable, producing unexpected results as they divide, or even cancerous growths” (Lopez 2001, p. 45), scientific researchers propose to pursue a particular line of research and often have a preferred direction in which they want to go (without implying it is necessarily the best or only way to go); they (and their lay supporters) hold that the research may be valuable in its results but do not say that it is morally obligatory; if there are objections to the research on ethical or social grounds, the researchers try to modify their work to respond to the criticism; and if the results prove not to be promising, the researchers move in another direction (Lopez 2001).

Embryonic stem cell research should be federally funded because it is one of the most expensive areas of research required billions of dollars annually. In many cases, private institutions and research laboratories cannot afford such long-term in embryonic cell stem research field. One can understand the wish to achieve consensus among the members of a bioethics committee or commission if that is at all possible; no one wants disagreement just for the sake of disagreement and these committees are set up with practical ends in view; they cannot be debating societies or academic seminars in which all possible points of view are given an airing and no practical guidance for decision-making is indicated. “Adult stem cells from the liver, brain, or other parts of the body may also be manipulated to form into other cell types. Called multi-potent stem cells, the richest sources are bone marrow and cord blood (from the umbilical cord and placenta)” (Snow 2004, p. 43). There is the fear that a lack of unanimity in a report will give policymakers who wish to maintain the status quo a good excuse for doing nothing. Nevertheless, it is wholly to be expected that on the difficult and complex moral and social and legal issues posed by the new biotechnology there will be deep differences of view among even the most informed and rational people (Mahowald 2003).

Embryonic stem cell research should be federally funded because it will help the state to control the reseach process and control ethical issues. “Similarly, embryonic stem cell research offers tremendous potential to those suffering from nervous system diseases that result from loss of nerve cells” (Snow 2004, p. 203). Embryonic stem cell research requires careful attention and considerations in order to avoid violation of natural laws and principles. In the field of bioethics critics are often faced with such dilemmas, so researchers should not try to hide the fact of negative and even dangerous consequences of the stem cell research The expectation that bioethics should reach some kind of agreement linked with the idea that there is, or ought to be, some kind of ordinary morality or ethics, no matter how minimal it might be. In spite of the fact that “embryonic stem cells are often unstable, producing unexpected results as they divide, or even cancerous growths” (Lopez 2001, p. 45). Researchers who argue for such a scientific morality in modern society usually attack the excesses of individualism according to which everyone is free to follow their own lives in their own way (Wertz 2002).

Anti-Thesis

Some critics suppose that embryonic stem cell research should not be federally funded because it will create a monopoly in this field. Embryonic stem cell research is one of the most debatable issues in modern medicine and scientific community dealing with benefits and opportunities of the research and moral arguments against inhuman medical practices. Embryonic stem cell research is immoral because it violates moral rights of an embryo thus it is really difficult to define the origin of life and consequences of such research. Moral arguments against embryonic stem cell research should be based on the issue of suffering and pain often omitted by scientists. Embryonic stem cell research is unpredictable and uncertain, so it should be limited to general research only involving any human embryos (“Overexcitement on Embryo Stem Cells” 2000).

Embryonic stem cell research is dangerous because people cannot predict its real outcomes and control them. The main problem for modern science is that it has limited information about the beginning of life and early stages of its development. Kass underlines that: “The cell synthesized by somatic cell nuclear transfer, no less than the fertilized egg, is a human organism in its germinal stage” (Kass 2003, p. 2). Thus, if people do not know soothing, it does not mean researchers should and ought to avoid it. Modern ethical and social and legal principles and categories simply cannot cope with the novel issues raised by the manufacture of totally new living organisms by genetic engineering, the creation of human embryos, and the manipulation of people’s genetic make-up to remedy certain kinds of disease, and so on. Researchers do not even have the language to talk about the radically new situations and circumstances that the technology of the processes of human life brings about. The main problem is that scientists apply old moral principles and arguments to explain and object embryonic stem cell research, but this area of research demands a new understanding and interpretation of human life. Others have argued that embryo experimentation raises such large and serious issues that the opportunities for such experimentation should be restricted to the very early stage of the embryo’s development (“Stem Cell Research” 2000).

Taking an innocent human life is ethically wrong; destroying an embryo is tantamount to taking innocent human life. However, this kind of reasoning is hardly ever possible in ethical discussion since in very many cases the principle and the description of the particular case are problematic. Thus, the definition of ‘taking a human life’ requires interpretation since there are occasions on which researchers can licitly bring about the death of an innocent human being (for example, some people think that in certain circumstances it would be ethically right to engage in nuclear warfare and so knowingly and intentionally bring about the death of millions of innocent people). Then again, whether or not a twenty-hour-old in vitro embryo is a human being also requires interpretation since it is certainly not obvious, without some kind of argument, that it is a human being in the ordinary sense of that word. On the other hand, it might be argued that the embryo is a human being of some kind and that therefore the principle that innocent human life must be respected applies in this situation. Here researchers have a conflict between two ethical principles and it is not at all clear how the conflict might be resolved. Researchers value life of an embryo but do not take into account sufferings and deaths of millions of people who can be cured because of new medicines and technologies developed by researchers (Wertz 2002).

Some people think that such ethical dilemmas are rare and extraordinary and that if researchers reflect about a situation hard enough and long enough researchers will then be able to see which principle should apply and how the problem should be resolved. But in fact these kinds of conflicts and dilemmas are endemic to the realm of ethical decision making. “But this fact still leaves unanswered the question of whether all stages of a human being’s life have equal moral standing” (Kass 2003, p. 2). There is no doubt that this developing organism is a human and not of some other animal species. Some have said that the human person begins at the moment of fertilization since at that moment a process is initiated which will, all being well, lead to the eventual development of a human person.

Synthesis

Two of the sides discussed above allow to say that no scientific evidence about the biological development of the human embryo can prove or disprove anything about the status of the human embryo as a person with a moral status and rights. In my view then it is a vain hope that researchers will be able to determine when a human person comes into existence simply by inspecting the biological and genetic evidence about the development of the embryo. Thus, even if researchers agree that an individual biological entity emerges only at day fourteen with the formation of a rudimentary nervous system, this does not tell us whether that individual entity is a person with a distinctively moral status(“Stem Cell Research” 2000).

The second confusion which has bedeviled the debate about the beginning of human life arises from not attending to the very simple fact that researchers are dealing with a continuum. There are many kinds of continua: an interval of time is a continuum in that each phase precedes and gives way to another in such a way that researchers cannot divide it up into discrete atomic bits. No matter how finely you divide up an interval of time you will always be left with an interval which can be divided still further. Opposition to embryo research and use became more vehement in 1999 when the prospect of embryonic stem-cell research appeared. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can develop into all the cells and tissues of the human body and divide many times (“Stem Cell Research” 2000). In principle, they could be used to treat many diseases, producing new pancreatic or heart tissue.

Opponents state the argument that lives might be saved and suffering avoided if the research could be allowed to proceed with federal support. In the USA, “stem-cell research has not been banned, but the federal government’s funding of such research is subject to the pushes and pulls of opposing political interests” (Snow 2004, p. 65). Embryonic stem-cell research might be carried out in those methods that would not require the use and obliteration of embryos’ the use of adult cells, for example, could be an alternative to embryonic stem cells. In stem cell research, there are many different research strategies in play at present. In the instance of research that poses or could pose a risk, it would seem obligatory for scientists to use all their skills to see if alternative methods and tools can be used. A look at most research now going on reveals that, in almost every case, scientists are exploring many methods in an argumentative, competitive way (Lopez 2001). Any kind of state imposed genetic screening program was rejected and a good deal of time was spent on the control of genetic information. Privacy of genetic information and of access to medical records is absolutely essential. If an individual’s genetic ‘map’ were made public, health insurance agencies might well refuse a job or health cover to someone they consider to be a health risk (Shapiro, 2006).

Conclusion

In sum, embryonic stem cell research should be federally funded because it will help to improve ethical issues and support research laboratories involved in these investigations. A theoretical way lay open to the use of those cells not only for embryogenesis research and gene research but for important therapeutic purposes as well, most notably, the generation of new cells to treat injuries and disease, with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, and kidney failure frequently mentioned. The conventional model of treatment, even if rarely articulated in any precise way, is to undertake every effort possible to save life. Again, the medical geneticists saw their task as providing people with genetic information they could use to make their own decisions about whether they should marry a person with a defective genetic make-up or whether they should have children when there was a risk of the children inheriting a severe genetic disease.

Bibliography

Lopez. Kathryn Jean (2001). A Truth About Stem Cells: An interview with Dr. David Prentice.” National Review, February 26 (1), 45.

Kass, (2003). The Moral Case against Cloning-for-Biomedical-Research. Web.

Mahowald, Mary B. (2003). Reflections on the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debate. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 46 (1), 131-41.

Overexcitement on Embryo Stem Cells (2000). The Lancet, p. 4.

Shapiro, R.S. (2006). Bioethics and the Stem Cell Research Debate. Social Education 70 (1), 203.

Snow, N. (2004). Stem Cell Research: New Frontiers in Science and Ethics. University of Notre Dame Press.

“Stem Cell Research” (2000). Journal of American Mediacal Assosiation. pp. 56-61.

Wertz, Dorothy C. (2002). “Embryo and stem cell research: Views from the USA. Journal of Commercial Biotechnology 8, (1): 200-208.