What are the arguments for and against the use of stem cells in medicine?
Stem cells – often referred to as “the building blocks of the human body” are like the basic ingredient needed in order to create a human being. This is why large amounts of stem cells can be found in early stage embryos in comparison to the adult human body where there are not as many present. Stem cells are “unspecialized” cells which have the potential to produce different types of specialist cells such as brain, muscle, or tissue cells. On January the 22nd 2001, the British House of Lords voted to relax the restrictions on the use of human embryonic stem cells. This has allowed scientists to use early stage embryos for therapeutic purposes. And whilst this has so far advanced the medical research into better treatment and possible cures for some disease’s there are many ethical and moral debates that surround the use embryonic and adult stem cells.
The view that life begins at conception plays a huge part in the moral debate that surrounds the use of embryonic cells for research. Researchers often obtain spare embryos that have been donated by couples having fertility treatment. The fertilized egg (viewed as a living or potential person) is incubated for a short period of time. The stem cells are then extracted and the embryo is disregarded (viewed as ending the life or potential life).
However it is arguable that these spare embryos would have gone to waste (or potential lives ended) if they had not been donated for medical research any way. As it can be seen for the greater good, instead of going to waste these embryos will play some part in assisting the advancement of medical uses of stem cells. Couples who use fertility treatment in order to rule out embryos with a genetic disorder can have their healthy embryos implanted whilst instead of the remaining being disregarded can be used for more disease specific research and can be more effective than the results from animal...
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