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Stem Cell Research 13 Essay

1788 words - 8 pages

Stem Cell Research is a controversial issue that revolves around the question of when human life actually begins. Social, political, ethical and religious groups from all around the world view the answer to this question in multiple ways. This leaves the individual governments with the choice of whether to extend government funds to the research and in determining what regulations need to be enforced in an area that could potentially save millions of lives. As with the difference of opinions that are reflected in the many groups around the world, so too are the governments’ stances on this important issue.

One of the biggest political debates of recent times is whether the ...view middle of the document...

However, these stem cells can only differentiate into one type of specialized tissue cell. For example, epidermal stem cells can form any type of skin cells and hematopoietic stem cells (found in bone marrow) produce different types of blood cells ("Stem cells," 2010). While much can still be learned from this stem cell type, it is limited in its medical possibilities. Embryonic stem cells, however, because they do not serve any one function, have the capacity to serve any function after they are instructed to specialize. This property makes these stem cells powerful enough to regenerate damaged tissue under the right conditions.
One of the goals of stem cell research is to improve scientists’ understanding of the human development process. Studies could be helpful in gaining knowledge of how age affects different cells, the spreading of cancer and other diseases, and the natural replacement of damage cells. Past stem cell research has shown promising results leading to techniques that are already in practice. Bone marrow replacements and skin grafts which are used to treat leukemia, lymphoma, and burns are results of these prior findings (“Stem cells,” 2010). The potential discovery of treatments for a variety of medical problems including organ and tissue regeneration, brain disease treatment, cell deficiency therapy, and blood disease treatment may be possible with further research.
At the heart of the political debate of whether the federal government should sponsor and pay for the research is the cultural and political idea of when human life begins (“What are stem cells,” 2010). This question is the most important one in the process of finding support for either banning or allowing this process and in the designation of funds for the research. Just like the controversy with abortion, the question of whether life begins at conception, at the development of certain organs, or at a particular point after conception, leaves this highly controversial topic open to numerous worldwide debates and opinions. It is clear that the act of murder goes against both the moral/ethical and legal code in this country and in many others. Consequently, it is up to each individual country to determine where they stand on this issue.
The United States, like most countries, has had a back and forth battle with their stance on stem cell research. Dating as far back as 1974, Congress implemented a ban on nearly all federally funded fetal tissue research until guidelines could be devised by the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. In accordance with the guidelines that were prepared, in 1975 an Ethics Advisory Board for fetal and fetal tissue research was established. Nevertheless only five years later, President Reagan decided not to renew it after the board recommended federally funded investigations into the safety of in vitro fertilization that used human embryos developed in vitro for under 14 days. This resulted in a de...

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