Embryonic Stem-cell Research - A True Faustian Bargain

Embryonic Stem-cell Research - A True Faustian Bargain

Length: 1556 words (4.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Embryonic Stem-cell Research - A True Faustian Bargain

    In the debate over whether the federal government should fund embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR), our country is being offered a true Faustian bargain. In return for a hoped-for potential - it is no more than that - of deriving desperately desired medical breakthroughs in the treatment of such afflictions as Parkinson's disease, paraplegia, and diabetes, we are being asked to give the nation's imprimatur to reducing human life into a mere natural resource to be exploited and commodified.


Given the stakes, our lawmakers owe it to their country to take the time to thoroughly understand the issue before speaking in public and taking sides. Unfortunately, some senator's statements in favor of embryonic research exhibited stunning ignorance regarding the subject about which they opined. Making matters worse, the press quickly leaped upon the statements of these pro-life senators as proof that embryonic research is moral, ethical, and scientifically justified, when the reverse is actually true.


Senator Hatch's attempt to explain his pro ESCR funding position to Chris Matthews on Hardball on June 20, demonstrated that he doesn't know an embryo from a stem cell. Take the following statements:


* "After a long period of study and prayer, I found that pluripotent cells are not full human beings but can be very, very beneficial as used by science to help with all kinds of maladies...."

* "It is appropriate to use pluripotent cells but inappropriate to use totipotent cells because a pluripotent cell cannot be made into a full human being. A totipotent cell can actually be replicated into a human being through even cloning." (Totipotent cells are the first to appear after fertilization and can actually develop into a completely new embryo - as occurs during identical twinning. Pluripotent [stem] cells appear a bit later. They are "undifferentiated cells" that can develop into any body part - which is why researchers wish to study them.)

* "Life begins in the mother's womb, not in a refrigerator."(Embryonic)


In stating that the feds should fund the study of pluripotent cells but not totipotent cells, Senator Hatch confused several essential points. First, pluripotent cells and totipotent cells are not the same thing as the embryo itself. Rather, these cells are constituent parts of the embryonic whole just as vital organs are parts of born persons.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Embryonic Stem-cell Research - A True Faustian Bargain." 123HelpMe.com. 10 Dec 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Process Of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Essay examples

- Introduction In this paper, I will explain and evaluate the process of embryonic stem cell research. I will discuss the historical background along with the scientific background on how embryos are gathered respectively. I will then go on to state two sides of a growing debate on whether or not we have the right to culture unborn fetuses in order advance scientific research and whether or not we have the right to use these embryos to increase the productivity of our lives when we are faced with life threatening circumstances....   [tags: Stem cell, Embryonic stem cell]

Research Papers
1054 words (3 pages)

The Debate Over Embryonic Stem Cell Research Essay

- Embryonic Stem Cell Research Embryonic stem cell research is one of the most highly debated topics in modern day society. The possibility of recreating life using these pluripotent stem cells is a gigantic advancement in medical research. Though, it should not be taken lightly. Many issues spur over the use of embryonic stem cells for research. However, the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research should be permitted. They have the capability to save many lives, commence new biological discoveries, and will be carried out on accord with the new federal guidelines....   [tags: Stem cell, Embryonic stem cell]

Research Papers
930 words (2.7 pages)

The Path Of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Essay

- The path of embryonic stem cell research The great debate about embryonic stem cell research maybe over. What is the debate of embryonic stem cell. The debate is whether or not it is ethically or morally right to kill an embryo for a life, to save a life. The research behind the embryonic stem cell(hES cell) is promising though, and we may have found an alternative way of obtaining it because we can sidestep the issue of morality by using induced pluripotent stem cell for research rather than embryonic stem cells....   [tags: Stem cell, Embryonic stem cell]

Research Papers
1217 words (3.5 pages)

The Debate Over Embryonic Stem Cell Research Essay

- Stem cells were first discovered in the early 1900s and are unspecialized cells that have the potential to develop into a number of different cells in the body. They can treat a wide variety of diseases and ailments, from diabetes to ALS. Embryonic stem cell research, in particular, has been the main source of ethical and scientific controversy since they were first successfully cultured in a laboratory in 1998. Embryonic stem cells are derived from fertilized embryos, which are destroyed in the research process....   [tags: Stem cell, Embryonic stem cell, Human]

Research Papers
1319 words (3.8 pages)

The Debate Of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Essay

- After reading Reagan’s speech, the prospect of stem cell therapy sounded promising and I was left wanting to find out more information about the specifics to his broad claims about “the future of medicine.” Following up with Doerflinger’s rebuttal, however, immediately made me much more skeptical and less optimistic about Reagan’s argument. In all, each piece not only offered separate viewpoints but also exemplified alternate methods of presenting a rebuttal argument. Reagan’s argument is that embryonic stem cells can be used to cure a variety of debilitating illnesses....   [tags: Stem cell, Embryonic stem cell, Stem cells]

Research Papers
727 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on Embryonic Stem Cell Research : The Field Of Medicine

- Embryonic stem cell research occurs for the advancement in the field of medicine to cure fatal diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, cancer, stroke, tumors, burns, lung disease, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and etc. Embryonic stem cells are mostly taken from in vitro fertilization, where the sperm and egg gets fertilized outside the living body in a Petri dish in a laboratory. Embryonic stem cells are the embryoblasts derived from a blastocyst, embryo at an early stage of development after fertilization, which can turn into an organism....   [tags: Stem cell, Embryonic stem cell]

Research Papers
1276 words (3.6 pages)

The Debate Over Embryonic Stem Cell Research Essay

- Embryonic stem cell research is dealing with embryos that the female no longer wishes to keep. Females having fertility issues can donate their unused eggs to scientific research. Scientist help boost fertility by giving the female a drug which produces more eggs. They then take the eggs and put them in a petri dish and fertilize them. Once the egg is fertilized, then the scientist plants the embryo into the female. The other fertilized eggs can either be frozen or donate them to scientific research....   [tags: Stem cell, Embryonic stem cell]

Research Papers
1232 words (3.5 pages)

The Debate Over Embryonic Stem Cell Research Essay

- The manipulation of embryonic stem cells has spurred controversy over the United States in the past decades. Many argue that their morals and philosophies forbid the destruction of embryos; however, the majority of United States citizens believe that the research is acceptable. Embryonic stem cells have the potential to change the future, yet we let these morals and philosophies outrule our advancement in science. The funding of embryonic stem cell research is necessary not only for its potential, but also for the further understanding of human beings....   [tags: Stem cell, Embryonic stem cell]

Research Papers
1115 words (3.2 pages)

The Technology Of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Essay

- The twenty-first century is the era of life science. With the development of the technology of life science and modern biology, the stem cell research becomes one of the most advanced research areas in the current society, especially the research of human embryonic stem cells. However, new technology also means new ethical problems. Should we keep researching or do we have any solutions to these problems. Will this advanced technology which is supposed to do the best for human but give disasters to people at last....   [tags: Stem cell, Embryonic stem cell]

Research Papers
1102 words (3.1 pages)

Supporting Embryonic Stem Cell Research Essay

- Supporting Embryonic Stem Cell Research Scientific research has the ability to help the terminally ill and disabled. Some people find this research is morally wrong. If this research helps people with disease and disability would you condone it. Today in The United States there is controversy facing embryonic stem cell research.People are dying because of the legal and moral obstacles involved in embryonic stem cell research. American citizens with illnesses and disease could be treated if this research was to continue at a much faster pace....   [tags: Embryo Embryonic Stem Cell Cells Essays Papers]

Research Papers
1525 words (4.4 pages)

Related Searches

Second, while the pluripotent cell itself may not have the potential to develop into a full human being, the embryo from which it is extracted does have that potential if implanted in a woman's womb. Third, taking the pluripotent cell destroys the embryo just as taking the heart would kill a born human being. This is what makes embryonic stem-cell research morally objectionable. Fourth, Senator Hatch's statement that life does not begin in a refrigerator but in a mother's womb is bizarre. Wherever it happens, fertilization certainly produces a new member of the human species. Indeed, federal law explicitly prohibits federal funding of experiments that destroy embryos outside the womb precisely because individual human life begins at fertilization. (In order to open the door to federal funding of ESCR, President Clinton interpreted his way around this legal impediment to permit funding of stem-cell research only after the destruction of the embryos already has occurred.) Whatever one thinks of Hatch's premise, it is certainly not biology.


Senator Lott seemed to have had the same professor as Hatch on the June 24 Meet the Press. Host Tim Russert asked Lott what the president should do about federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research. The Mississippi senator leaned toward supporting federal funding on the basis that there is potential for medical advances from experimenting with "cells before they become embryos."

No, Senator Lott, you have it backwards. Stem cells are not mere unorganized protoplasm that somehow develops in the future into the organic whole we call the embryo. Rather, stem cells are extracted from existing, living embryos that are generally a week old and already are made up of dozens or even hundreds of cells.(On NBC)


The reasons why the federal government should not fund embryonic stem-cell research are not all that complicated. The National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), which recommended permitting federal funding of ESCR, also stated that using embryos in excess of need in IVF treatments "is justifiable only if no less morally problematic alternatives are available for advancing the research." Happily, since the NBAC recommendation, research breakthroughs using adult stem cells and alternatives such as stem cells found in umbilical cord blood, have been breathtaking. Here is a just a partial list by the type of maladies that ESCR advocates hope to ameliorate, but for which, alternative sources of therapy already demonstrate awesome potential:


Diabetes: Three recent breakthroughs have occurred in the fight against diabetes. First, in procedures akin to an organ transplant, cadaver pancreatic islet cell transfers have helped people afflicted with Type 1 diabetes to the point where they don't have to take insulin. (They do, however, have to take anti-tissue rejection medication.) Second, in mouse experiments, adult pancreatic stem cells restored full insulin production in diabetic mice as a consequence of which the treated mice lived. Finally, when diabetic mice were treated with embryonic stem cells they produced approximately 2% of the insulin required for life. All of these mice died. Thus it appears likely that adult stem cells and alternative surgical therapies offer greater potential for relieving diabetes than do embryonic stem cell therapy.


Nerve Damage: Proponents of embryonic stem cells offer the hope that these cells might someday help heal damaged nerves, perhaps offering a cure for paraplegia or quadriplegia many years in the future. Yet, little noted by the media, white-blood-cell therapy has already produced astonishing results in an 18-year-old woman whose spinal cord was severed in an automobile accident. Amazingly, after having the cells implanted in her spinal cord, the woman regained control over her bladder and can now move her toes and legs, although not yet walk.


Immune System Defects: In Los Angeles, the transplantation of stem cells harvested from umbilical-cord blood has saved the lives of three young boys born with defective immune systems. Rather than receiving bone marrow transplants, the three boys underwent stem-cell therapy. The experimental procedure worked. Two years post-surgery, their doctors at UCLA Medical Center pronounced the boys cured.


Neurological Disease: Scientists have discovered that stem cells found in umbilical-cord blood can be reprogrammed to act as healthy brain cells. At the University of South Florida (Tampa), rats that had been genetically engineered to suffer strokes were injected with these cells. The cells integrated seamlessly into the surrounding brain tissue where they matured into the type of cell appropriate for that area of the brain. Meanwhile, scientists have learned that new neurons (brain cells) are produced in adults, overthrowing previous scientific dogma, and offering a potential source for stem cell harvesting. And, in another astonishing turn, it turns out that even cadaver brains can also supply brain stem cells. The ability to open, isolate and harness these cells - whether from umbilical cord blood or living or cadaver brains - offers great hope for future treatments of Parkinson's disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), multiple sclerosis, and other nerve/brain maladies without having to destroy embryos in the process.


ESCR may not work. Senators Hatch and Lott's assumed that ESCR had already demonstrated that it could eventually lead to miracle cures. Quite the contrary. While adult/alternative cell therapies are already treating cartilage defects in children, systemic lupus, and helping restore vision to patients who were legally blind - just to name a few - embryonic stem-cell research has no equivalent record of success even in animal studies. Indeed, embryonic/fetal cells have never ameliorated one human malady.


ESCR could be a gateway to human cloning. Promoters of federally funding ESCR promise that initial research would come from embryos currently stored in in-vitro-fertilization clinic storage tanks. These embryos, they point out, are likely to be destroyed anyway so why not use them for scientific benefit?

While this is a potent argument that appeals to the pragmatic streak in the American character, it is actually a bit of the old "bait and switch." Yes, initial research would use IVF embryos currently in excess of need for impregnating women. But should ESCR prove potentially beneficial in clinical use, some in the biotech community claim that IVF sources would be insufficient to meet clinical need. At that point, cloning would be required. Thus these companies vigorously oppose congressional attempts to outlaw human cloning in the United States. Indeed, according to recent Congressional Committee testimony by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, cloning of embryos "are a critical and necessary step in the production of sufficient quantities of vigorous replacement cells for the clinical treatment of patients."


Senators Hatch and Lott support the proposed ban on human cloning. Yet both seem completely unaware that their sympathy for the federal funding of ESCR, if successful, could lead to the very cloning procedures that both, to their credit, find abhorrent. Indeed, the Stem Cell Senators may find that their pragmatism-over-principle approach comes back to haunt them.


Embryonic stem-cell research takes us onto a path that would transform our perception of human life into a malleable, marketable natural resource - akin to a cattle herd or copper mine - to be exploited for the benefit of the born and breathing.



"Embryonic Stem Cells"   http://www.cruzada.net/embryonic_stem_cells.htm

"On NBC's Meet the Press."  http://report.kff.org/archive/repro/2001/6/kr010625.1.htm
Return to 123HelpMe.com