Government Funding Stem Cell Research
Stem cell research is a relatively new science that is the source of much medical promise yet much controversy as well. The type of stem cells required, embryonic stem cells, are only obtainable one way: through the destruction of human embryos. In 1996, the Dickey-Wicker Amendment was passed, making the government unable to fund any research where human embryos are created or destroyed. At first the amendment was a minor obstacle the government had to work around to still get the stem cell scientists the money they needed. It wasn’t until August 23, 2010 that Judge Lamberth’s ruling halted all government funding for stem cell research. Today, stem cell research does not receive government funds as the research, though potentially life-saving, crosses moral and religious barriers that inhibit its growth as a science and as a gateway towards future medical breakthroughs. With the opposing arguments in mind, I feel the government should fund stem cell research as doing so will help speed up the research process and get us closer to saving lives and ending human suffering.
There are two types of stem cells, adult stem cells (found in adults) and embryonic stem cells (found in embryos). Although both possess at least some ability to replicate and develop into mature specialized cells, such as skin cells, heart cells, or nerve cells, the adult stem cells are much less numerous than embryonic and generally much more limited in the types of cells they can form. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning that they can form any kind of tissue and any type of cell. Embryonic stem cells are currently not used for medical treatments yet are the source of much medical promise in the near future. Obtainable only through the destruction of human embryos, embryonic stem cells can be viewed as life savers or the products of life destruction. A type of adult stem cell, the hematopoietic stem cell, is already widely used to treat leukemia; in fact, they are the only kind of stem cells currently used to treat diseases. Though past and current applications of stem cell therapy with humans may seem a bit underwhelming, scientists around the globe agree that stem cell research is worth the attention and will bring much relief to victims of many diseases.
The main reason for government not to fund stem cell research is that it funds or at least encourages the destruction of human embryos. Judge Lamberth severed the government’s loophole used to fund stem cell research, appealing to the numerous United States citizens who do not want their tax dollars going towards the destruction of human embryos. Judge Lamberth concludes that “the fact that embryonic-stem-cell research ‘involves multiple steps does not mean that each step is a separate ‘piece of research’ that may be federally funded, provided the step does not result in the destruction of an embryo’” (Keiper). The issue here arises from the belief that human embryos are potential humans, and therefore, the destruction of human embryos should be considered the destruction of human life. Adam Keiper, the editor of the New Atlantis, states that “presuming the incalculable moral significance of human life, was certainly the intent of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, and should be the aim of any decent society” (Keiper). He believes that the government should not fund stem cell research regardless of which part of the research it is funding; such funding of any research that involves the process of the destruction of human embryos, or potential human beings (as some may see them), incentivizes just that. With that in mind, one’s position on the stem cell research may be decided on simply weighing the potential lives saved by conducting the research with the potential lives saved by not conducting the research. That decision relies heavily on one’s morals, religious beliefs, and whether or not human embryos should be considered potential humans beings.
Cited: Bothwell, Laura. "Federal Funds Should Be Used for Embryonic Stem Cell Research."Stem Cells. Jacqueline Langwith. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from "Judge Lamberth 's Unspoken Morality." The Hastings Center. 2010. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 27 June 2012.
Keiper, Adam, and Yuval Levin. "Federal Funds Should Not Be Used for Research That Destroys Embryos." Stem Cells. Jacqueline Langwith. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from "Stem Cells, Life, and the Law."National Review (25 Aug. 2010). Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 1 July 2012.
Lewis, Andy. "Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Research Is More Ethical than Embryonic Stem Cell Research." Stem Cells. Jacqueline Langwith. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from "Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: An Amazing Breakthrough in the Stem Cell Debate." The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 1 July 2012.
President’s Council on Bioethics. "Monitoring Stem Cell Research." Medicine, Health, and Bioethics: Essential Primary Sources. Ed. K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner. Detroit: Gale, 2006. 485-488. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 1 July 2012.
Kirchstein, Ruth. "Stem Cells: Scientific Progress and Future Research Directions." Medicine, Health, and Bioethics: Essential Primary Sources. Ed. K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner. Detroit: Gale, 2006. 72-75. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 1 July 2012.
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