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Defining a Life: The Ethical Questions of Embryonic Stem Cell Research (Revised)

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❶Those people who feel that life begins at conception oppose the use of unused blastocysts and aborted fetuses in research, while pro-choice groups generally support embryonic cell studies advocating that new lives were not created just for the purpose of experimentation.

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Consequently, stem cell research and the development of associated medical applications are of great interest to the scientific and medical community. The area of stem cell research involving human embryonic stem cells is of particular interest in that embryonic stem cells are derived from week-old blastocysts developed from in vitro fertilized eggs.

As opposed to adult stem cells, which must undergo a complicated process of de-differentiation prior to application, embryonic stem cells are capable of undergoing directed differentiation. In the second process, scientists solely manipulate the culture in which the embryonic cells are grown or directly alter the genetic content of the cells.

Herein lies the heart of the ethical debate over the morality of destroying a human embryo in order to derive embryonic stem cells for treatment. Those in support of embryonic stem cell research claim that the week-old blastocysts from which embryonic stem cells are derived are merely a cluster of cells and thus do not constitute a human being.

Many liberals and conservatives alike argue that the potential benefits far outweigh the moral concerns, and for this reason, embryonic stem cell research should be pursued.

Research involving human embryonic stem cells and human non-embryonic stem cells has the potential to lead to better understanding and treatment of many disabling diseases and conditions. Advances over the past decade in this promising scientific field have been encouraging, leading to broad agreement in the scientific community that the full range of promising stem cell research should be supported by Federal funds.

Kaufman, who is an associate director at the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute and an associate professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation, supports embryonic stem cell research, arguing that the embryos used in the study of embryonic stem cells come from fertilized zygotes that would be otherwise destroyed:.

It is important to recognize that human embryonic stem cells all come from embryos created in excess by fertility clinics. All of these embryos will be destroyed if they are not donated by couples specifically to produce embryonic stem cells for biomedical research.

The question then is, what is the most respectful way to treat these valuable embryos? Kaufman and other supporters of embryonic stem cell efforts assert that by utilizing embryos for research purposes that were otherwise intended for disposal, researchers are in fact paying more respect to the life of that embryo.

Such a claim elicits ardent objections from those who do not support embryonic stem cell research. Those opposed to embryonic stem cell research argue that the potential benefits of such research do not justify the termination of a young human life.

There is no question, they say, that even at the blastocyst stage a young human embryo is a form of human life. Therefore, opponents argue, as a human life, embryos possess the same rights and are thus entitled to the same protections as are afforded to other human beings. Jim Eckman, a member of advisory board of the Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research NCER , is vehemently opposed to embryonic stem cell research because he believes that it is a violation of the life, dignity, and rights of human beings: An assault against any innocent human being is an assault on humanity in general.

Similar to Eckman, opponents of embryonic stem cell research believe that life begins at conception, the moment a sperm fertilizes an egg, and consequentially the destruction of a week-old human embryo is the destruction of a life. Though the majority of critical voices appreciate the effort to discover and develop cures for the benefit of suffering individuals through stem cells, they promote utilizing stem cells derived from sources other than human embryos, arguing that such research will not cause harm to another human being.

Recent scientific studies have made significant progress studying stem cells obtained from adult cells and umbilical cords, neither of which involves the abortion of a human embryo. While the arguments in support of human embryonic stem cell research are well intentioned, some have a number of flaws. A claim made by many supporters is that all embryos used in embryonic stem cell research will be destroyed anyway, so it is ultimately more respectful to use the embryo for research than to allow it to go to waste.

There are, however, other options for those parents of embryos stored in fertility clinics, one of which is to donate the embryos to other couples struggling with infertility qtd.

Additionally, the number of embryos ultimately required to fully develop and apply embryonic stem cell research will vastly exceed the number of frozen embryos currently provided by fertility clinics. The embryonic stem cells can assist in the development of new blood vessels especially in diseased hearts. The unspecialized cells also have the potential to become a variety of cell types especially if grown with a certain type of cell.

They therefore mature and become that type of cell. The research will enable the development of an entirely new science which can be used in medicine to treat future as well as current diseases.

Spinal cord injuries will be able to be treated as a result of using stem cells which can regrow the damaged spinal cord. This will make it easier for the recipient as the organ will come from their own DNA and therefore there will not be any risk of organ rejection or taking the debilitating immune suppressant medications.

The embryonic stem cell research is controversial because the cells are derived from human embryos and for them to be obtained the embryo must be disassembled. The component cells after the disassembling are then grown in culture. It is believed that life begins at conception therefore the stem cells used for research should have a legal treatment and a status of human beings. There is a deliberate misuse of terminology when it comes to defining stem cells.

This is because the proponents of embryonic stem cell research use the term pluripotent which is meant to imply that embryonic stem cell cannot make the outer layer of the embryo that is called the trophoblast. However the stem cells that are emptied into the petri dish are able to reform the trophoblast and create an implantable embryo.

This is the therapeutic form of cloning and begins using the same procedure as reproductive cloning. The goals of therapeutic cloning are to produce embryonic stem cells whereas the goal of reproductive cloning is to produce a baby. Most people will not approve any use of public money to destroy human embryos in any type of medical research. The cells used in the embryonic stem cell research are usually derailed from their natural course of development through a process of chemical manipulation so that they can become very specific tissue types to be used for treatment.

The human embryonic stem cells will require the use of drugs which is lifelong so as to prevent rejection of the tissue. The embryonic stem cells can cause tumors due to rapid growth when injected into adults.

The embryonic stem cell treatments may not work because the process of growing the stem cells has been in the laboratory and this may have some limitation. Before they can be used in any therapy they will therefore be made to go through a large number of divisions in cell culture procedures.

These procedures may cause an accumulation of faults due to the divisions of the cells. These faults if not monitored well will be transferred to an individual causing severe consequences.

Adult stem cells should be used instead of the embryos because they can also be as versatile as the embryonic variety. When the adult stem cells are used which come from the patients themselves, there will be little danger of them being rejected. It is seen as wrong by many proponents of the human embryonic stem cell research to protect the lives of a few unborn human beings and delay treatment to a much larger number of people suffering from debilitating and fatal diseases. However, it is not ethically right to pursue any health-related gain through unethical or immoral means like the taking of an innocent life.

It is seen as wrong to also sacrifice the embryonic class of human beings in order to benefit another. Finally, in contrast to the research on embryonic stem cells, the non-embryonic stem cell research has resulted in numerous clinical benefits to the patients.

The PROS and CONS of Stem Cell Research Essay Sample

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The cons of stem cell research are based solely on personal beliefs, there is no fact behind them. Opposers of embryonic stem cell research do not take into account the medical promise that funding for this research will bring.

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There were two main issues concerning stem cell research with both pros and cons: How the knowledge will be used; Concerns about the methods; The first issue is really not just about stem cell research, as it may be applied to most research about human health.

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Stem cell research is one of the most controversial topics of our day. Any embryonic stem cell research essay needs to carefully weigh up the pros and cons, as well as the ethics involved. The CIHR (Canadian Institute of Health Sciences) drafted a list of recommendations for stem cell research in The Clinton administration drafted guidelines for stem cell research in , but Clinton left office prior to them being released.

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The PROS and CONS of Stem Cell Research Essay Sample. Is it ethical to favor the killing of unborn babies in order to extract their stem cells for medical research? Stem Cell Research Pros and Cons List. List of Pros of Stem Cell Research. 1. Cure for Diseases List of Cons of Stem Cell Research. 1. Overrated There is a school of thought that believes that stem cell research is highly overrated and not nearly as much of a slam dunk as medical experts would have led you to believe. 2. Ethical Conflicts.