Stem Cell Research Essay, Research Paper
Stem cells look to be nothing more than a hollow sphere composed of a clump of tiny,
roundish balls. In reality, they are much more than that. Those 40 cells contain all the
potential to become a living, breathing human being. Many scientists believe that these
cells also have the potential to cure a myriad of diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease,
Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and many others. The cells of the four day old human
embryo can be programmed to become virtually any cell in the body making them a very
valuable commodity. All this sounds very promising until one realizes the cost of
acquiring these miracle cells. Gathering stem cells from human embryos can be looked
at as nothing less that taking a life.(Begley 23)
There are multiple reasons that the government should not fund research on
embryonic stem cells but the most important has got to be the inevitable destruction of
life involved. What good is saving lives when they are being taken at the same time?
How much since does that make? Who are we to decide whether these embryos get their
chance at life or not? Making a decision like that is playing God. Pure and simple. We
don’t even know for sure that stem cells can live up to the expectations that scientists
have for them. That fact makes stem cell research nothing more than a gamble that
might save some lives, but will definitely cost some in the process. Can it really be worth
Even if stem cells could turn out to be the miracle cure that scientists hope they
are, think of the effect on the population and economy. Imagine what it would be like if
there was a sharp increase in the elderly population. Perhaps two or three times the
number of citizens eligible for social security. The drain that such an occurrence would
put on the economy is almost immeasurable. It would lead to a host of undesirable
effects, most notably an inevitable tax increase to support all of the elderly who would
depend on their monthly social security check as their only source of income.
While the harvesting of embryonic stem cells should be out of the question,
research on adult stem cells could be looked at as a very real possibility. As Sen. Sam
Brownback put it why “kill anybody,” when we can use the cells of willing adults for
research by simply drawing blood. Last fall, researchers announced that they been able to
transform human bone marrow cells into neurons. This research is a substantial piece of
evidence in the campaign for the use of adult stem cells instead of the embryonic variety.
As Dr. Ira Black of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School stated “It raises possibility
that all of us are harboring the seeds of our own self-renewal.” Adult stem cells are
vastly easier to obtain, and they are also more plentiful. Using these cells would
irradicate the need for the embryonic variety and end the current assault on human life.
Many advocates of embryonic stem cell research would argue that “No paper
shows definitively any adult stem cell in humans turning into anything else,” as
Stanford’s Irv Weissman put it. There are also several claims that adult cells proliferate
much more slowly than embryonic ones, and that they may not provide a renewing source
of new stem cells. Many also reason that banning research on the precious cells would
cause future people to suffer and die when there might be a way to save them. Still
others don’t even consider the cells as life. (Begley 27)
These arguments might raise some questions until the we realize that they ignore
the issues of ethics and morality. Adult cells are more easily obtained, therefore research
on them is easier. If there is any way that stem cells can benefit us medically, the answer
will be found through them. Early research suggests that adult cells reproduce slower
than embryonic cells, but the supply of adult cells is seemingly infinite. This cancels the
issue of slower proliferation. Advocates of stem cell research are so caught up in the
future and what could be accomplished, they fail to focus on what is important, the
present. To get to their cures, they must first destroy living human embryos to obtain the
stem cells. There is no justifiable reason to take this route, especially with the Presidents
promise to provide “aggressive federal funding of research on the umbilical-cord,
placenta, and adult and animal stem cells, which do not involve the same dilemma.”
The bottom line on this issue is that we don’t know for sure if embryonic cells
can cure anything, and researching them requires us to destroy something that is alive.
Something that given the opportunity can become a full fledged, living, breathing, human
being. They have the right to live, and not to be destroyed, just like anyone else. Taking
one life to save another, it cant possibly be worth it. Experimentation like this is a crime
no less than abortion and cannot be morally justified. We should think long and hard
before giving government money to a project like this.
Begley, Sharon. “Cellular Divide.” Newsweek
9 July 2001: 23-31.
Lacayo, Richard. “How Bush Got There.” Time 20
Aug. 2001: 19.