Print Сite this

Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Introduction

In the world of bioethics the discussion on human embryonic stem cell research has resulted in a heated debate, from Washington D.C. and to the other parts of the United States of America. Human embryonic stem cell research (“hESR”) creates a discussion that could not be easily resolved.

We will write a
custom essay
specifically for you

for only $16.05 $11/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More

But in spite of the technicality and the complex scientific terms that are brought into the debate, no one should be fooled into thinking that human embryos are simply organic matter that can be used in experiments without considering the fact that one is dealing with humans and that tampering with them would be worse than playing God – the consequences are too terrible to contemplate. It is therefore imperative to establish laws that would prevent private groups, business enterprises or even the Federal government from conducting experiments in the field of hESR.

This paper will take a closer look into hESR, and the reason why there is a need to put an end into all funding intended to finance experiments using human embryonic stem cells. There is a great degree of risk that the new technology will fall into the wrong hands and be applied to purposes other than for the advancement of medicine. But before going any further it is equally important to frame the discussion with a definition of terms and establish the clear meaning of this new cutting-edge technology in the field of medicine.

Bioethics

Bioethics according to Dahnke and Dreher “…is the subdiscipline of applied ethics that studies the moral questions surrounding biology, medicine, and the health professions in general” (10). Bioethics has grown in popularity in the recent decades and more and more people are aware of its meaning and implication. This is due in no small part to the debate regarding human stem cell research.

The main reason as to why hESR should be banned can be summarized in one sentence, “Embryos are human individuals and should not be used or destroyed for research purposes (Dahnke & Dreher, 72). On the other hand the initiative to pursue hESR can also be summarized in the following related positions:

  1. Embryos do not have the same status as a fetus or a baby and can be used for research;
  2. Embryos should not be created for research but can be used if they are leftover from in vitro fertilization procedures.
  3. Embryos are clusters of cells no different from other cells and can be created specifically for use in research ( Dahnke & Dreher, 73).

No matter how clever and how logical the arguments may seem in favor of hESR, there is no easy way to go around the issue that embryos are humans. An embryo is given the proper care and nurture will grow into a full-grown baby after 9 months of gestation period. In the words of McCartney, hESR is a field of research, “…which is at best, ethically controversial, and at worst, in total disregard of the dignity and uniqueness of human life” (89). McCartney was right, everything is fair game for researchers, flora and fauna can be used to discover innovative ways of treating diseases, but human beings must be off-limits to them.

So it does not make any sense why some scientists would still argue to the contrary. Aside from the ethical and moral standpoint there is also another aspect of science and technology and that casts a dark shadow over hESR and this is the fact that technology can be easily misused or abused. Technology can easily be used for evil than for good and experimenting with human embryos is the first deadly step to experimenting with members of the human race. History is a grim reminder of what is possible in the hands of the greedy, the obsessed, and the tyrannical. Now, aside from ethical and moral issues connected to hESR there are at least two more areas of discussion that will further explain why human stem cell research should be banned: a) allocation of resources in healthcare and b) non-neutral aspect of technology.

Get your
100% original paper
on any topic

done in as little as
3 hours
Learn More

Technology

It used to be that human existence is as simple as being born, growing into adulthood, reaching old age and then death. In the modern world man learned to master science and technology and was unafraid to continually push the envelope when it comes to finding cures for diseases and to ultimately prolong life expectancy beyond what was considered possible. In his pursuit to achieve immortality it was discovered that a human embryonic stem cell is a, “…self-renewing cell line that gives rise to all cells and tissues of the body.

The potential for these cells is to allow permanent repair of failing organs by injecting healthy functional cells developed from them, an approach called regenerative medicine” (Okarma, 3). In other words a person with a bad heart will no longer have to deal with temporary solutions such as surgery and expensive medication – the same patient can instead have a new heart developed using human embryos.

The last statement was a dampener to the whole thing. It must be fully understood that once the scientific community begins to use human embryonic stem cells they have broken new ground. They are experimenting on humans – there is no need to sugarcoat it. Once America crossed the point of no return there is no telling what scientists will try to do as their curiosity will surely be piqued by being given a foretaste of what it would be like to play God. And one thing will lead to another.

At first it would be embryos and then later it would be fetuses allowed to grow into little factories with which rich clients and their doctors can now use to harvest organs, bone marrow etc. It is not far-fetched to imagine that once mankind has crossed the line, he will redefine the meaning of human life. It is therefore important that this demarcation line between scientific inquiry and dignity of human life should not be breached.

Allocation of Resources

For non-experts in the field of hESR, there seems to be an assumption that once scientists will be given the go signal to experiment on human embryos, what follows would be scientific breakthroughs that will provide cures for those with problems like spinal cord injuries and Type 1 Diabetes. It must be made clear that nothing is farther from the truth. At this point scientists have no clue as to how to successfully guide a human embryonic stem cell from being a stem cell and then growing into a specific tissue or organ.

According to Solo and Pressberg, “The heart of this science is finding the chemical signals that will send the embryonic stem cell into the desired direction…” (8). But they are also quick to point out that, “Understanding all the genetic and chemical factors involved in guiding an embryonic stem cell into the particular desired result will be difficult” (Solo & Pressberg, 9). This makes one wonder if it is practical to pursue this path or would it be better to spend the money on something that will immediately cause an impact.

It is no secret that the United States is currently experiencing a health care crisis. This simply means that not everyone has access to quality health care and as a result many are either in pain or suffering from financial difficulties due to the exorbitant prices of medicines and the equally expensive physician fees, not to mention money needed to pay nurses and other health workers. The rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer, dragged down to the bottom by mounting medical bills. With regards to the topic, if ever there would be some benefits derived from hESR the only segment of the population that will be able to use cutting-edge technologies will be those who belong to the upper deck of the socio-economic pyramid.

We will write a custom
essays
specifically
for you!
Get your first paper with
15% OFF
Learn More

Thus, McCartney argues that it is not right to use the money taken from poor Americans to finance a research project that will only benefit a small segment of the American population. McCartney elaborates on this by asserting that:

…these hoped-for-but-as-yet-unproven benefits will not be enjoyed only by those who can afford them, that is the rich and the upper-middle classes, who currently enjoy excellent health care coverage complete with prescription drug benefits. This is not only unfortunate but unfair because it is the tax money of millions of Americans (including the working poor) that will subsidize this research… Perhaps our tax money might be better spent improving the access to, and quality of, health care for all Americans..(89).

A wise manager will make a decision regarding limited resources based on what is practical at the moment. This simply means that those who are in dire need usually get the resources in much the same way that a critically ill patient gets to see the doctor first. The problem with stem cell research is not only about ethics but also concerns viability. Should the government funnel resources towards a project that is yet to produce substantial results? The answer should be in the negative.

Conclusion

The issue of stem cell research has resulted in tremendous arguments and many heated debates. Both sides of the camp are very much convinced that they are right and no one will give concessions. Those who are in the middle and could not yet choose what side to take could not be blamed for their decision, because when it comes to tinkering with human life the world is divided over the issue. But upon closer inspection it will be found out that there are more reasons that will favor the shutting down of funding towards human embryonic stem cell research.

There are three major arguments against hESR. First of all there is the issue regarding the dignity and uniqueness of human life. It has been pointed out earlier that plants and animals are fair game for scientists but when it comes to humans they will have to focus their overly curious minds on some other things.

Once the point of no return has been crossed there is no telling what will happen next. Starting experiments with human embryos is like opening Pandora’s Box there is no one who can predict how future scientists will continually push the envelope in terms of playing God. At first it would be embryos but later on scientists will no longer bother with human dignity and instead proceed with more daring experiments. It is not a stretch to imagine “human factories” that will be allowed to grow in laboratories in order to have steady supply of cells, human tissue, and healthy organs.

This cutting-edge technology is difficult to control. It can easily be misused or abused. History tells everyone that it will only require a leader with a twisted mindset to authorize experiments that will lead to the exploitation of humans.

In the Manhattan Project – the secret code name for the project that will ultimately build the atomic bomb – all inhibitions were overridden by the desire to satisfy curiosity. No one paid particular attention to the fact that they will be producing something that will kill millions of people. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki the scientists were able to see the byproduct of their work. Many of them may have felt remorse and felt responsible to the fact that they became the agents of death.

Need a
100% original paper
written from scratch

by professional
specifically for you?
308 certified writers online
Learn More

But dropping the bomb in Japan was simply the beginning. In the decades following World War II citizens of the world are constantly in fear of a nuclear war, there was a chain reaction of events that could not be stopped but it all began in one government-funded experiment.

Everything can be traced to the Manhattan Project. Oppenheimer the famous leader of the project provided an explanation as to why his team of scientists continued to press on in spite of the fact that they may be producing a very lethal instrument of death and he confessed, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and you argue about what to do about it later on” (Solo & Pressberg, 3). The same can happen to another government-funded experiment on human embryos. If given a chance, scientists will continually push the envelope even if it is no longer ethical to proceed.

Another disturbing aspect of hESR is the fact that scientists still need to overcome a significant amount of hurdles. There is still no clear promise of success; they have yet to understand how stem cells developed into a liver, heart, pancreas etc. If this is the case then a ton of money is needed to sustain trial and error type of experiments. There is also an added dimension with regards to who will be able to benefit from said experiments.

In the unlikely scenario that scientists will be able to find solutions in the shortest possible time, there are those who believe that at the end only the rich can afford the cutting-edge technology. And many are crying foul because the money that will be needed to fund the said experiment will be coming from the working poor. This has led many to say that instead of funneling limited resources to experiments that are yet to produce substantial results; it was deemed wiser to instead channel the money to improve the U.S. health care system.

Works Cited

Dahnke, Michael & Dreher, Michael. “Defining Ethics and Applying the Theories.” Ed. V.D. Lachman Applied Ethics in Nursing. New York: Springer, 2006. 3-12.

McCartney, James. “Recent Ethical Controversies About Stem Cell Research.” Stem Cell Research. James Humber. New Jersey: Humana Press, Inc., 2004. 87-100.

Okarma, Thomas. “Human Embryonic Stem Cells: A Primer on the Technology and Its Medical Applications.” Ed. Suzanne Holland, Karen Lebacqz, & Laurie Zoloth. MA: MIT Press, 2001. 3-14.

Solo, Pam & Pressberg, Gail. The Promise and Politics of Stem Cell Research. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2007.

Cite this paper

Select style

Reference

StudyCorgi. (2021, October 24). Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/human-embryonic-stem-cell-research/

Reference

StudyCorgi. (2021, October 24). Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research. https://studycorgi.com/human-embryonic-stem-cell-research/

Work Cited

"Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research." StudyCorgi, 24 Oct. 2021, studycorgi.com/human-embryonic-stem-cell-research/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research." October 24, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/human-embryonic-stem-cell-research/.


Bibliography


StudyCorgi. "Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research." October 24, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/human-embryonic-stem-cell-research/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2021. "Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research." October 24, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/human-embryonic-stem-cell-research/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research'. 24 October.

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.