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Carolyn Brager

Lauren Pejza
Sommar Veverka

As technology rapidly advances and the potential for scientific discovery is unlike
anytime in history, the possibility of monumental benefits within the field of stem cell research is
slowly becoming a reality. Embryonic stem cell research has an incredible opportunity to further
the overall well being of the human race by developing treatments for a breadth of critical
diseases. However, the time and resources that this promising research demands requires the
support of federal funding. In the following paper, we will explore the political, legal, and social
issues that come to play in the controversy over this issue.
First, a little bit of science. Stem cells are capable of dividing and renewing themselves
and have the ability to create cells of the same kind. Undifferentiated stem cells can develop and
differentiate from one another into very specialized cells. In stem cell treatments,
undifferentiated cells are programmed to form specific cells, which can then be transplanted to
the afflicted area. According to the National Institute of Health, stems cells can possibly treat
afflictions including Alzheimers diseases, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease,
diabetes, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
(POLITICAL) In 2001, President Bush established a policy allowing research on
embryonic stem cell lines created prior to August 9, 2001, which created a great barrier to the
advancement in research. His policy had very strict guidelines that had to be followed in order to
receive any funding. Bush personally didnt agree with embryonic stem cell research because he
believed the destruction of human embryos to harvest stem cells is not only devoid of the light

of God but is also devoid of humanity and does not truly serve humanity so he passed an
executive order imposing serious restrictions on the research. On March 9, 2009, President
Obama issued an Executive Order: Today, with the Executive Order I am about to sign, we will
bring the change that so many scientists and researchers; doctors and innovators; patients and
loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years: we will lift the ban on federal
funding for promising embryonic stem cell research. We will vigorously support scientists who
pursue this research. And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day
may yield. By executive order, Obama could authorize the NIH to invite couples who planned
to discard their frozen embryos to donate them for research. The couples would have to affirm
that they no longer intended to use the embryos and had already decided to destroy them. Instead
of the embryos merely being thawed and incinerated, as happens today, their cells could be used
to produce lines for stem cell research. The production of stem cells from these embryos could
easily be accomplished without federal support, and the resulting stem cells could be donated for
federal research.
Additionally, the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act of 2013, introduced to the House
of Representatives, amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Secretary of Health and
Human Services to conduct and support research that utilizes human stem cells, including human
embryonic stem cells. Generally, Democrats support embryonic stem cell research because they
see the value in the science behind and and believe in the possible advancements that could come
out of it. Republicans tend to disagree with embryonic stem cell research because it goes against
their religious beliefs and align with their pro-life stance. They also oppose the federal
government involving itself with the issue. They are, however, often in favor of adult stem cell.

Both Republicans and Democrats are usually against research for human cloning by stem cell
(LEGAL) In 1996, Congress passed the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, the first major
amendment related to this issue, which banned federal funding for research on embryos. Shortly
after however, the National Institute of Health utilized judicial activism and interpreted this
amendment, putting forward a variety of guidelines that weakened the restrictions. These
guidelines included that the cells had to be in excess at fertility clinics, the research had to be
privately funded, and the donor was required to provide consent.
Furthermore, after the policies, acts, and executive orders discussed in the political
section above, there was a monumental court case regarding this field called Sherley v Sebelius.
This case challenged the legality of funding for the federal funding of stem cell research by the
National Institutes of Health. Two researchers who work with adult stem cells, James Sherley, a
biological engineer at Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher, of
Washington-based AVM Biotechnology, sued in 2009 to block such research. They argued that
they were at risk of being squeezed out of federal grants for their own work with adult stem cells,
which does not involve the destruction of embryos.
The appeals court recognized that the law was ambiguous but deferred to NIH's
interpretation that it could fund research using stem cells from embryos that were not actually
destroyed in the course of that research. In other words, the court ruled against them in favor of
federal funding. The plaintiffs then asked the supreme court to review the case but they refused.
Douglas Melton, a scientific director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, stated in an interview
after this decision, We couldn't be happier that this frivolous, but at the same time potentially
devastating, distraction is behind us.

(SOCIAL) Fundamentally, this case is so important because embryonic stem cells have
invaluable benefits over adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells can become all cell types of the
body while adult stem cells have limited ability to differentiate. While embryonic stem cells can
be grown relatively easily, it is very challenging to isolate adult stem cells making them far more
expensive to obtain and extremely less effective for innovation.
Stem cell treatments require the programming of the human embryo to form specific cells
which can possibly treat many diseases and afflictions. Socially, it is questionable whether it is
ethical to use embryonic stem cells, which are the most promising to cure these disease, however
the issue should not be a question of morality.
A supporter would argue that, if you or a loved one of yours is dying or suffering from a
terrible disease, the promise of stem cell research is so encouraging. The advances it brings
towards medicine is a breakthrough, especially with all these genetic diseases. Who wouldnt
want to do this then, and why is this progress being stopped?
On the other end, members of the opposition would argue that we are altering with
humankind if stem cell treatments were to be used. How much is too much? They believe people
might take it to the extreme and want to use it to alter their offspring and create a superior race.
From a religious standpoint, it is in accordance with their abortion stance. For example,
Catholicism is anti abortion and does not support embryonic stem cell research. However, it is in
favor of adult stem cell research according to the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops. Similarly,
Hinduism believes that life begins at conception but has no published opinion on stem cell
research itself. Contrary, Judaism including the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jewish
support adult and embryonic stem cell research for medical or therapeutic purposes only.

The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) based in Skokie, Illinois is an
independent, nonprofit organization established to promote and foster the exchange and
dissemination of information and ideas relating to stem cells, to encourage the general field of
research involving stem cells and to promote professional and public education in all areas of
stem cell research and application. No information online was released regarding politicians
supporting the organization. However, in 2007 the organization involved themselves with
California politics. ISSCR brought on Robert Klein, who is California's stem cell czar in
efforts to raise money and to target rural California for the organization. Prior to his involvement
in the ISSCR he was the chairman of Californias $3 billion stem cell program and before that he
initiated a campaign and program regarding the issue. That was the first involvement with
politics and the organization. However they have progressed and have expanded the organization
nationally. In 2016 they plan to hold international synopsis in Dresden, Tokyo, and Florence. The
organization's international synopsis are series to promote the expansion of ISSCR education
programming of stem cell research. Invite attendees from around the world are encouraged to
meet and learn and discuss the latest science breakthroughs and issues regarding the topic. The
company has not hosted any marches regarding pro stem cell research.
An antagonist organization, Students For Life of America (SFLA), is a conservative
organization founded in 2006 on a college campus, one of the nations most active pro-life
organizations, and the largest youth pro-life organization. They describe their mission as one to
Abolish Abortion in our Lifetime. On January 2, 2015 they hosted March for Life during the
Students for Life National Conference in Washington D.C. this winter. They state, Human
Embryonic Stem Cell Research is ethically wrong because it destroys human person as the

embryonic stage of development. Adult Stem Cell Research is ethically justifiable because it
does NOT destroy lives.
Overall, federal funding is essential for successful and rapid scientific progression in the
field of embryonic stem cells. In essence, the fact that researchers must destroy human embryos
to obtain the stem cells is the main issue that prevents the support of many Americans for federal
funding. Because of the immense possibility for treatments, the ethics of using excess embryos
for research, and the ability to ensure properly regulated scientific practices, the immense
benefits outweigh the possible harms and this research needs to be federally funded.