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The Importance Of Stem Cell Research

2721 words - 11 pages

“The greatest risk to scientific progress is to stop taking risks”. Dr. Elias Zerhouni from the National Institute of Health gave this quote during an interview to a reporter in 2007. He was referring to Stem Cell research, a controversial medical issue of today. Louise Brown of Manchester, UK owes her life to scientists and doctors taking risks and exploring the world or Stem Cells. In 1978 she became the first baby to be born via in-vitro fertilization, a process where a woman’s egg is harvested and mixed with male sperm to become fertilized. After doctors fertilized Louise’s mothers’ egg, and let it develop in a lab for about five days they then implanted the zygote in Mrs. Brown’s uterus ...view middle of the document...

For most, the issue is determining when life begins. Does life begin at the moment of fertilization or when a baby exits the womb and appears in the real world? If one considers the moment an egg is fertilized and develops into a fetus the point when life starts, then harvesting cells from human embryos could be considered murder. For those who don’t believe life begins the moment the sperm and egg unite, hESC research isn’t an as much of an ethical issue. Most religious groups view destroying an embryo as murder, because they believe that when a baby is conceived it develops a soul.
Harvesting stem cells is beneficial to more than just women looking to get pregnant via in-vitro. Research has and can be done further on diseases, and for genetic disease screening. As Dr. Zerhouni put, there must be risks to make progress. The risk of destroying an embryo to potentially save many human lives is one experts are willing to take. In reality, it all comes down to individuals’ personal beliefs and deciding what comes first in their priorities. Using a fetus that has been aborted by personal choice, or by using a miscarried fetus could start a breakthrough in medical science and possibly solve an incurable or untreatable disease.
The government has gone back and forth many times on what is acceptable and what is not in hESC research. Each presidential era has tweaked laws and rules for funding and practicing actual research. Back in 1999 Nature Medicine reported that the National Bioethics Advisory Commission urged congress to allow research on embryos that were no longer needed for in-vitro fertilization (George J Annas, Arthur Caplan, and Sherman Elias). In 1995 congress passed the “Dickey Amendment” or the “Dickey Wicker Amendment”(Schecter). This act forbade federal funding to be used in either the creation of human embryos for research or for any research in which human embryos are destroyed. This contrasted greatly to the UK’s policy which allows embryo destruction in favor of scientific advancement.
In 2001 after President Bush Jr. was elected into office, he made revisions to the laws and federal policies surrounding stem cell research. He stated that federal funding could be used on pre-existing embryonic stem cells which were harvested before he came into office, however no new procedures could be done with government money to obtain new stem cells. At the time of President Bush’s decision there were only 60 cell lines to be operated on. In 2002 the Department of Health and Human Services released a document called “Guidance for Investigators and Institutional Review Boards Regarding Research Involving Human Embryonic Stem Cells, Germ Cells, and Stem Cell-Derived Test Articles”. Under the ‘Conditions Regarding Federal Funding of Research on Human Embryonic Stem Cells’ it states that “Research involving derivation of new stem cells from human embryos or use of human embryonic cells that are not listen on NIH (National Institute of...

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