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Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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Published by: kuitang on Apr 05, 2008
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09/27/2012

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Two humans are trapped in a burning building. One is a sweet child; the other, a mass of cells on a petri dish. Who ought to be saved? Such is the conundrum of embryonic stem cellresearch: these remarkable cells can save countless lives, yet their acquisition necessitates thedestruction of an embryo. While purporting to protect inviolable life, repudiating embryonicstem cell research effectively condemns millions to misery and demise for the sake of these cells.America cannot continue to deny its citizens the potential miracles of embryonic stem cells.Therefore, federal funding restrictions for embryonic stem cell research on new cell lines should be lifted in the United States.The opposition’s thesis is that research violates an embryo’s right to life. But the mere potential for life does not automatically equate to actual life, especially the life of a suffering patient. As Renee Saenger, writer for the Columbia Spectator, argues, “the majority of Americans will favor a cure for heart disease for a man whom they can identify with over aclump of cells that […] lack the experiences that define that which they know as life.”
1
Moreover, ascribing the 400,000 discarded embryos of 
in vitro
fertilization
2
the same status aswalking, breathing persons is a fallacy: these amalgams at best remain indefinitely in suspendedanimation, their chances of growing into an infant infinitesimal. At worst, an embryo joins the8,000 to 10,000 that are destroyed annually.
3
Prohibiting embryonic research, then throwingembryos down the drain is grotesquely reprehensible. As a pluralistic democracy, America must provide for its citizens’ well-being, not enforce dogma. Ronald Green, member of the NIHGuidelines committee and director of the Dartmouth Ethics Institute concurs:
1
Erin P. George, “The Stem Cell Debate: The Legal, Political, and Ethical Issues Surrounding FederalFunding of Scientific Research on Human Embryos,” Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology 2002: 796,LexisNexis Academic, LexisNexis, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, 17 Dec. 2007 <http://lexis.com>.
2
Marcia Clemmitt, “Stem Cell Research,” CQ Researcher 1 Sept. 2006: 699, 18 Dec. 2007<http://library.cqpress.com>.
3
Clemmitt 713.
 
Tang 2[A] pluralistic democracy committed to protecting and improving the health of itscitizens cannot justly exclude one area from its research support merely becausethat area is objected to by some of its citizens on the basis of their personalreligious and moral beliefs. Unless these […] objections can be grounded inconcerns relevant to a pluralistic democracy—and this means […] public healthand safety—they must be set aside.
4
Hence, objections to embryonic stem cell research are fundamentally grounded in personal beliefs—opinions that cannot justly belong in public policy. Therefore, our obligation toameliorate the pains of suffering people outweigh any tenacious ties to mere clumps of cells— cells that almost certainly will never see the light of day.Adult stem cell research will not eliminate the necessity of embryonic stem cell research because the two play complementary roles. Claims that adult stem cell research holds greater  promise are false because the two cannot be competitively compared. Adult cells haveundergone twenty fervent years of research while embryonic cells were only discovered in 1998and research has been crippled by misguided ethics and laws throughout.
5
Thus, our knowledgeis simply inadequate to responsibly conclude that adult cells are pragmatically superior. TheAmerican Society of Cell Biology and all other major scientific societies concur that both must be researched.
6
Further, unique properties of embryonic stem cells make substitution impossible.Adult stem cells are available only for a limited repertoire of tissue; embryonic stem cells arestill required for a genuine answer to the onslaught of disease.
7
Embryonic cells allow
4
qtd. in George 794.
5
Clemmitt 704.
6
George Daley, “Embryonic Stem Cell Research,” CQ Congressional Testimony 29 Sept. 2004: n.pag.LexisNexis Academic, LexisNexis, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, 17 Dec. 2007 <http://lexis.com>.
7
Daley n.pag.
2
 
Tang 3researchers to study disease development as cells mature into tissue, providing novel insight for  prevention and cure.
8
Finally, studying embryonic cells may unlock the enigma of pluripotency,that is, the means by which an embryonic stem cell can develop into the plethora of bodily cells.Consequently, by studying embryonic cells, it may be possible to revert adult stem cells back into embryo-like cells, eliminating the future need to destroy embryos.
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The restrictions onembryonic stem cell research that tie researchers’ hands behind their backs are chains that must be broken.For the millions suffering from Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injury, AIDS, heartdisease, and a plethora of other diseases, the stem cell is a bastion of hope.
By developing into
any
cell as needed, pluripotent embryonic stem cells rejuvenate dead, damaged, or diseasedtissue, combating and reversing the ravages of practically any degenerative disease.
Bydeveloping into organs, stem cells offer hope for the 70,000 who await a transplant each year inthe U.S., according to Dr. Niklason, associate professor of biomedical engineering at YaleUniversity.
These cells may fool the body into thinking transplanted tissue is native, therebysolving the problem of organ rejection.
Altogether, over 128 million in the U.S. may directly benefit from embryonic stem cell research.
The history of fetal tissue research, including suchmiracles as vaccines for Polio and measles, demonstrates all the reason to believe cures will be
8
Clemmitt 704.
9
Clemmitt 704.
10
Goldstein 235.
11
Goldstein 232-3.
12
qtd. in Goldstein 257.
13
Goldstein 235.
14
George 792.
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