The Moral Implications of Stem Cell Research

Stem cell research has been intensely debated since the 1940s, and even today, there are differences in opinion in the scientific and political world. One supportive argument in favor of Embryonic stem cell research is that, since In Vitro Fertilization is legal, the stem cell research should also be. Another argument for it is that “spare embryos are destined to die because they have been created by means of IVF to provide backup in case pregnancy is not successful.” Two arguments against stem cell research however are that, number one, embryos, regardless of whether not they are “destined to die,” should receive the same care after death as dying patients or prisoners condemned to death; and number two, it is feared that people may be able to abort their child with a better conscience if they know it will go to possibly save the life of someone else who needs the kind of treatment only stem cells can provide. This may result in a larger number of abortions due to the mother’s ability to justify and rationalize the abortion.

One new discovery regarding stem cells was scientist’s ability to create a human esophagus in a lab using stem cells. According to Jim Wells, (Ph.D) “Laboratory-grown esophagus organoids might help treat a range of conditions, such as esophageal cancer and gastroesophageal reflux disease.” It also could treat esophagus related congenital diseases such as artesia. Of course the one harmful thing which results in further research into the subject is the fact that the stem cells have to come from somewhere. The only realistically convenient source of these stem cells are from deceased embryos. 

When ethical points are discussed, I would say that stem cells should not be retrieved from human embryos when the process results in the destruction of that embryo. Once a discovery is made where stem cells can be painlessly extracted from the human embryo without causing damage, I would, unless convinced otherwise by outside information, find no problem in this form of science provided that, number one, the stem cells are used for the curing of another (human) disability or unnatural and possibly dangerous physical attribute, and that, number two, the person who was the former embryo from which the stem cells were sourced, experiences no defects,  differences, distortions, or deformities in their personhood due to the extraction of their stem cells as an embryo. 

I, given that I had the authority to do so, and under the circumstances that a stem cell extraction could be performed harmlessly, would require treatment of the embryo during the operation to be as close as possible to the treatment of an adult willing donor, and as it relates, would grant both parents of the embryo the authority to decide whether or not the embryo should undergo the donation of stem stem cells. As far as the overall impact on the society, stem cell harvesting could however, pose a significantly higher threat to embryos, if it is not carried out properly.

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