Stem Cell Research Advancements
Stem Cell research could save the lives of many people suffering from diseases. Stem cells are organisms that are crucial in development. These non-specialized cells have a potential to create other cells such as; muscle cells, tissue, brain, and blood cells. Stem cells can even repair and replace damaged cells. With all this wonderful technology in our reach Ethics holds back the development of research. Ethics have been controversial surrounding this research. In the past years research took embryonic stem cells from an aborted embryo to get materials to study.
In this case the issue arises that stem cell research may be used to clone. There are many arguments about the use of stem cells. The biggest fear of cloning arose in 1997 with the cloning of Dolly a sheep which was created through cloning stem cells. This sheep put a scare on society that scientist may want to clone a human child, this was a misperception by society. Genetic determinism aroused the fears that genes determine all aspects of an individual; this reflects a person’s genes are a simple relationship of psychological and physical traits.
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This brought forth the fear of “Playing God” and the interference of natural elements of life. For those who believe that the embryo has the moral status of a person from the moment of conception, research or any other activity that would destroy it is wrong. For those who believe the human embryo deserves some measure of respect, but disagree that the respect due should equal that given to a fully formed human, it could be considered immoral not to use embryos that would otherwise be destroyed to develop potential cures for disease affecting millions of people.
An additional concern related to public policy is whether federal funds should be used for research that some Americans find unethical ( Kathi E. Hanna, M. S. , Ph. D. , Science and Health Policy Consultant,2006). Congress has restrained researchers from using federal funds for human embryo research since 1996. DHHS announced in 1999, that it would fund research on ES cells derived from embryos after infertility treatments. This decision was made on the facts that embryos within a statutory definition do not have the capacity to develop into a person even if transferred into a uterus.
In the private sectors embryos created through cloning would be legal. In 2006, bills before Congress would ban all forms of cloning outright, prohibit cloning for reproductive purposes, and impose a moratorium on cloning to derive stem cells for research, or prohibit cloning for reproductive purposes while allowing cloning for therapeutic purposes to go forward. As of late June 2006, the Senate had taken no action. President Bush’s Bioethics Council was expected to recommend the prohibition of reproductive cloning and a moratorium on therapeutic cloning.
The main ethical theories used by opponents and supporters in this controversy are utilitarianism and deontological ethics. Consequentialism is the ethical theory that assess the rightness or wrongness of a certain action based on the desirability of the results or the consequences of the action. In these theory good actions brings happiness or pleasure to the largest number of people. Unlike consequentialism, deontological ethics primary concern is the action in its self. This ethical theory judges the wrongness or rightness of an action based on the conformity of that action with certain norms or principals.
Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher expressed his deontological theory using the categorical imperatives. These categorical imperatives are principles that serve to guide the conduct of people. One of Kant’s categorical imperatives says, “Always treat persons as ends in themselves and not merely as means to some other end. ” If we give to the human embryo the moral status of a person, then under this principle it will be wrong to destroy the human embryo to save the lives of others.
President Obama removed his restrictions on federal funding for new stem cell research, but then two days later signed the Omnibus appropriations Act of 2009 containing the long standing Dickey-Wicker provision that bans federal funding of research in which human embryos are destroyed. This hindered scientist from creating new lines of stem cells from federal funding. But Obama’s policy did allow the potential of using such funding for research of already existing stem cell lines. Also, expanding into the private sector where bush had restricted expansion since 2001.
The ethical concerns rose during Clinton’s time in office continued restrictions on stem cell lines. A religious view on stem cell research has also hindered its growth. Almost every religion is against stem cell research for one reason or another. Southern Baptist is against research opposes human embryonic stem cell research on the grounds that “Bible teaches that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27; 9:6) and protectable human life begins at fertilization. ” Catholic believes that the killing of an innocent being is wrong even if it is to benefit others.
Methodist oppose to the creation of embryos for the sake of research as a human embryo, even at its earliest stages, commands our reverence. The Assemblies of God opposes the practice of cultivating stem cells from the tissue of aborted fetuses, because it perpetuates the evil of abortion and should be prohibited. The churches of latter day saints choose to remain silent on the issues at hand. As you can see almost everywhere you turn for support in the religious community you are shunned.
As we further into the restrictions we have faced over the years of stem cell research we must not lose hope that one day we will be able to continue the research and further the quality of human life through stem cell research. Today we must overcome the obstacles from the fears of scientists using cloning techniques to create the so called perfect human. To government restrictions on funding that cripples programs from advancing in knowledge of developing cures for diseases and even tissue and organs to replace damaged one’s.
Then there is the ever so stake ling diversion from religious allies who view scientific research as Satanism and trying to play god. In the end I still believe Stem cell research has a long way to go and we will bring out the good of mankind in changing these scrutinizing laws. As noted in the presidential documents vol. 74, no. 46 on Wednesday, march 11 2009, Research involving human embryonic stem cells and human non-embryonic stem cells has the potential to lead to better understanding and treatment of many disabling diseases and conditions.
Amelioration over the past ten years in this scientific field have been reinforcing and leading to broad agreement in the scientific community that the research should be supported by Federal funds. The past 8 years, the Department of Health and Human Services, including the NIH have been limited to funds to conduct human embryonic stem cell research has been limited by Presidential actions. The Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the Director of NIH, may support and conduct responsible, scientifically worthy human stem cell research, including human embryonic stem cell research, to the extent permitted by law.
The director of NIH reviewed existing guidelines to human stem cell research including provisions established appropriate safeguards on human stem cell research. New NIH guidelines on such issues such as research that is consistent with this order. I feel this new development will be promising. Stem cell research expansion can and will save many lives and will cure diseases from diabetes to repairing organs instead of transplanting them. Deleting the need for immunosuppressant’s saving the health care industry millions per patient in the future.
Kathi E. Hanna, M.S., Ph.D., Science and Health Policy Consultant,2006 Presidential documents vol. 74, no.46 on Wednesday, March 11 2009