The debate over stem cell research arises from the allegation that using an embryo for study purposes is unethical. In the process of carrying out research activities, the embryo gets destroyed. Protesters of this kind of research are against the killing of embryos, and have tagged this activity nothing but short of a murder.
Pros and Cons of Embryonic Stem Cell Research
This research can be useful in finding cure for health problems like Parkinson's disease, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, organ transplantation, spinal cord injuries, birth defects, etc. Embryonic cells have the ability to reproduce any other cells present in the body. The debate over the use of these cells for research has been raging between religious groups and scientists. According to the former group, the use of embryos is considered to be immoral on the grounds that it destroys a life in the initial stages of development.
The arguments supporting the research of embryonic stem cells are presented below.
- There are about 100 - 150 million people in the United States, who can benefit from the stem cell derived therapies and treatments, thereby finding a solution for their health problems.
- The embryonic stem cells provide researchers with greater advantage in comparison to adult stem cells. This is because the embryonic ones are easier to identify, isolate, and can be purified without much problems.
- It is simpler to grow these cells in comparison to adult stem cells.
- The embryonic cells used for research are harvested 5 - 7 days after conception. It is argued that at this stage, the embryo is not developed enough to assign it a personal identity; it is just a mass of cells.
- The adult stem cells are not a good alternative to embryo stem cells, as they fall short in the treatment of genetic diseases. The same genetic disease that is to be treated might occur in the adult cells.
The following points should make us aware of the limitations of embryonic stem cell research.
- An important argument against using these cells for research is that such an activity involves deliberate attempts to destroy human life, and this cannot be justified. Hence, the argument supporting its use for saving another life doesn't hold much depth.
- Destroying an embryo can be compared to that of killing a comatose person. This is because, both the embryo and comatose people lack self-awareness, cannot feel anything, and are also unable to process their feelings.
- The US government strictly prohibits any activity of stem cell research or human cloning. Private companies, which already have the possession of many cell lines wouldn't hesitate to defy all the norms and ethics pertaining to this research.
- In the field of medical studies, voluntary consent is absolutely essential. As per the Nuremberg code, any kind of experimentation, which results into disability, injury, or death is prohibited. Embryonic stem cells research violates this code, and hence, it is an unethical practice.
The activity of carrying out research with embryonic stem cells would face strong opposition on moral and ethical grounds. Understanding the science of human cloning, and pros and cons of stem cell research through information presented above should prove to be useful.