Critical Paper, George W. Bush, Stem Cells Research

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On August 9, 2001, President George W. Bush announced to a national audience his decision and new policy on stem cell research. President Bush explained to the United States how he would not allow federal money for new stem cell research. Federal money could only be used for existing stem cell lines. For any new stem cell research, the money must come from the private sector (Ruse, 11). This controversial decision is still a widely debated topic that is in the forefront of the current political landscape and could be a major determining factor in our next presidential election in 2008. The following will examine President Bush’s stance of stem cell research. Based on this news release from the White House, Bush’s policy does not thoroughly examine all aspects of this practice and is cause for even greater controversy. Stem cells have been the topic of this controversy since the benefits of research have begun to be explored in science. Scientist have been researching how stem cells can be used to treat and possibly cure many diseases and conditions commonly found in people of all ages. Examples of potential conditions that have been found to benefit from treatment with the use of stem cells include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Type I diabetes. Other diseases that are being researched for possible treatments and cures include Lou Gehrigs disease, retinal disease, and various blood diseases (Manninen, PowerPoint slide 28). One of the major findings in the research of stem cells include the ability for stem cells to develop into spinal cord cells to reconnect severed cords. This has been researched and supported in the treatment and study of rats used in laboratory research (Manninen, PowerPoint slide 19 link). This would provide the potential to treat people who have become paralyzed due to spinal cord injuries and would provide great benefits to spinal cord patients. The use of these stem cells to treat and possibly cure these major conditions have been a major argument supporting the use of stem cells as the benefits are beyond any other form of medical treatment currently available. In order to better understand the controversy of stem cell research, it is important to define the origin of the stem cells. Stem cells come from three sources: adult cells, cords cells, and embryonic cells. Adult stem cells are extracted from the bone marrow of an individual. Cord cells are obtained from an umbilical cord after the birth of a newborn baby (Prentice). Embryonic cells are obtained from an embryo. An embryo is defined as a young multicellular organism that develops from the zygote and does not become free-living until the end of the second month, at which time it is considered a fetus (Ruse, 352). Although it is commonly believed that stem cells must derive from the ‘death’ of embryos, there are other forms of obtaining stem cells. The embryonic stem cell has been researched to be the most valuable of the three types of stem cells because of its potential to reproduce into a greater number of cells. Cells derived from other sources are valuable but do not have the same potential to successfully develop into beneficial cells needed for medical research and cures. The major cause for controversy in this topic is due to the use of embryos in stem cell research. To understand what an embryo is and how it is used in stem cell research is important as this is where most of the controversy lies. Embryonic stem cells are extracted from an embryo that is usually three to five days old. At this stage of the embryo it is referred to as a ‘blastocyst’ which contains about one hundred stem cells. A common misconception is that embryos are microscopic babies in test tubes. When stem cells are extracted from the embryo, they are grown into cultures of cells to be used in research Manninen, PowerPoint slide 12). Embryos are not usually created for the sole purpose of stem cell research, they are almost always the...
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