Term Paper: Altering the Universe: From Gutenberg

Pages: 4 (1421 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Disease  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Some might argue that there is still a risk to the embryo, albeit it is notably less than is the risk from thawing or freezing. In this case, while there is some risk is to the embryo, the potential gain to society in general and to the people battling horrible diseases is clear. (Bartlett, 2001).

Life forces the weighing of risk against possible gain in many things. In general, stem cell research can be viewed as a valuable weapon in the ongoing fight against disease.

Pre-Embryos: Necessary Casualties of "War"

Disagreements over stem cell research are often based on how one defines a human being. Many believe that excess frozen "embryos" are human beings that should not be utilized in lifesaving research, though they will be discarded anyway. Stem cells can be harvested from the blastocyst that results after the egg divides a number of times. "It's quite a stretch to call these clumps of cells in Petri dishes embryos; the New Jersey courts call them pre-embryos." (Bonchek, 2002, p. 58).

If these doomed pre-embryos are defined as humans, is it reasonable to say that human lives must never be sacrificed, even in times of danger? U.S. presidents often put men in harm's way, knowing that many will be killed. Although he was a pacifist, President Woodrow Wilson entered World War I to "keep the world safe for democracy." (Bonchek, 2002).

The atomic bomb was used in World War II because, in the long run, it was believed that it would save lives. 417,000 Americans died in WWII, and anyone who protested was thought unpatriotic. But in the 1960s, the moral high ground shifted to the view that, regardless of the reason, no "human" life should be sacrificed. The unpleasant truth is that there are always casualties in war. (Boncheck, 2002).

Military conflicts are not the only wars. The perpetual worldwide war between man and disease has produced more casualties than all of history's shooting wars combined. In the war against disease, refusing to contemplate loss of "life" through genetic research is dangerous to the world's health. As in WWII, there is now new weapon, stem cell research. It could very well shorten this war and save many lives, but the development of stem cell research is being frustrated and the afflicted pay the price. (Bonchek, 2002).


Stem cell research can be accomplished in at least two ways that should not raise the moral ire of politicians, religious groups or the public in general. The first is through the use of adult stem cells, avoiding the terrible risks of tissue rejection. Adult stem cells can be recovered through tissue biopsy from patients, or grown in culture. The second potential direction for stem cell research involves extracting a few cells in the early stages of an embryo's development, without destroying that embryo. Finally, the argument can be made that "pre-embryos," those embryos resulting after an egg divides a number of times, could be sacrificed as "casualties of war" - the global war against disease - rather than simply discarded. Stem cell research is a valuable new weapon against the global war against disease. It could be one of the most important pieces of the biotech revolution. It does indeed have the potential to alter the universe itself.

Works Cited


Bartlett, Roscoe G. "Do Stem-Cell Research without Killing Embryos." Insight on the News 3 Sept. 2001: 44.

A www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5000903424

Blake, Christopher R.L. "A Different Reason for Worrying about Stem Cell Research." Matrix: The Magazine for Leaders in Higher Education Oct. 2001: 9.

A www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5000778479

Bonchek, Lawrence I. "Stem Cells, Embryos and Casualties of War." Free Inquiry Summer 2002: 58.

A www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5000684075

Condic, Maureen L. "The Basics about Stem Cells." First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life Jan. 2002: 30.

A www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5001181408

Edwards, Catherine. "Embryo Research: A Life for a Life?." Insight on the News 6 Mar. 2000: 18.

A www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5001019597

Hickey, Jennifer G. "Moral Questions Dog Stem-Cell Research." Insight on the News 16 Apr. 2001: 20. [END OF PREVIEW]

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