Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Sacrificing for the Greater Good

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Embryos are essentially microscopic human beings. Regardless of what good they may provide to the field of medicine, the ethical controversies surrounding embryonic stem cell research are profound. Stem cells, the cells used by the human body to replenish damaged tissue, are found in both embryonic and adult form. At the adult level, stem cells can be extracted from bone marrow, but the real ethical debate arises when embryonic stem cells are introduced. “Pluripotent” embryonic stem cells are among the only type that can form any of over 200 cell types, making it the most useful and versatile. These cells are isolated from the inner cell mass of the embryo when extracted, and subsequently terminates the embryo itself, which is technically manslaughter. However, it must also be noted that embryonic stem cell research can provide effective treatments and even cures for those in need of organ transplants and other irremediable predicaments. Therefore, it is safe to say, from a utilitarian perspective, that the essential “death” of one embryo can save the lives of many, and with Jeremy Bentham’s phrase “the greatest good for the greatest number”; I believe that embryonic stem cell research is ethical.

The real controversy in stem cell research lays in the termination (abortion) of the embryo, which is an entirely independent debate altogether. The embryonic stem cells extracted for research are being derived from embryos that are being aborted regardless (Johansen). Therefore, there is a macrocosmic debate more powerful than the one about stem cell research itself. By harvesting these stem cells from babies predestined to abortion, at least a contribution is being made to society – one that can benefit a multitude of people, perhaps suffering from a multitude of conditions. Even if one wants to debate the ethics of stem cell research, the researchers are being ethically unethical, with regard to the abortions guaranteed to take place.

However, those who value...
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