The Complex Moral Issue of Stem Cell Research

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The Complex Moral Issue of Stem Cell Research

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For Sale: One small miracle in a bassinet. Will cure AIDS, cancer, acne, possibly bad breath and athletes foot. Limited supply only, so call and reserve your miracle cure now, a.k.a. Human Fetus. Only a couple of years ago the ad above would have seemed like something from a science fiction novel. However, now the pages of that novel are coming to life. In 1998, James Thompson, a biology student from the University of Wisconsin, isolated the first embryonic stem cell. Contrary to the sound of its name, a stem cell is actually a human fetus that has been aborted and allowed to "develop for up to twelve days or until he is about 100 cells big" (Sullenger). Scientists are now conducting research on these stem cell lines. A stem cell line comes directly from a single embryo. After that line is fully developed "it can reproduce indefinitely, allowing hundreds of researchers to work with cells from a single line" (Meckler). As of right now, there are only 64 stem cell lines existing in the United States. Out of those 64, only 24 or 25 are fully developed and ready for research. The research done on these cells is meant to find cures for diseases such as Leukemia, AIDS and other forms of cancer.

There are many controversies concerning this area of research. The main one is whether or not the research done on human fetuses is a violation of a human being’s life. The ones who say that it is not a violation believe that life doesn’t start until the day of birth. On the other hand, those who do believe it is a violation say that the life of a human begins the minute they are conceived. In order to obtain the stem cells, researchers must get the cells from an abor...

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...cures for all sorts of ills, from diabetes and heart disease to Alzheimer’s -all without taking a single additional embryo" (Lemonick).

On the other hand, there was still the issue of whether it’s morally right to kill a human in experiamentation. To many, it seems like a waste for scientists to create stem cells only to do experiments on them, and then get rid of them when they are done, "in effect, these humanistic apologists have created an entire group of throw-away people, whose lives only have meaning in how they can serve the rest of humanity" (Sullenger).

This is one issue that won’t be easily resolved, and it may never come down to being able to order a miracle cure over the tv. We live in an age of scientific discovery, and with that, anything is possible. There might even be a way for people to agree on the moral issues of the subject in the future.