Embryonic Stem Cell Research Research Paper

Pages: 12 (4073 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Anatomy

71). And while the concerns citizens have about science and its "implications" are not new, the hE's cell research -- and all its implications -- has provided the chance for these above-mentioned concerns to "coalesce around a new, scientific field (Hyun, 71).

Number two on Hyun's synthesis of the main objections to embryonic stem cell research: those in opposition to the research believe "…for religious or other personal reasons that all preimplantation embryos have a moral standing equal to all living persons" regardless of whether those embryos are in a woman's body or in a dish in a fertility clinic (71). Given this point-of-view, people who object to the research also believe that destroying preimplantational embryos is "akin to murder and therefore never acceptable, no matter how noble the aims of the research may be" (Hyun, 71).

Supportive Positions Vis-a-vis Use of Embryonic Stem Cells for Research

"…Treating a patient who suffers from type I diabetes by replacing his destroyed insulin-producing cells with normal insulin-producing cells could be better than the blood-sugar monitoring and the insulin injections that are essential parts of the lives of diabetics… [and] perhaps liver cells produced from stem cells can be injected into patients with severely diseased livers so that satisfactory liver function can be restored. Because there are good reasons for trying to cure diseases and because human embryonic stem cell research promises markedly better treatments of disease than are currently available, the case for pursuing human embryonic stem cell research seems overwhelming…." (Marquis, 2007, p. 191).

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Meanwhile, Jeff McMahan writes in the journal Metaphilosophy that the main objection to the use of human embryos is because they are viewed as "…essentially beings of the same sort that you and I are" and hence, using embryonic stem cells for research is "killing" humans (McMahan, 2007, p. 170). McMahan, a philosophy professor at Rutgers University, points out that those who object to the use of embryonic stem cell research believe it is "seriously morally objectionable" to kill them or to allow them to die -- "or to create them solely for certain instrumental purposes" (170).

Research Paper on Embryonic Stem Cell Research the Assignment

But when the announcement was made in August, 2006, that researchers had found a way to "…harvest embryonic stem cells from embryos created for reproductive purposes" without destroying them -- a unique way in which the embryo would remain alive and could even be implanted into a woman -- McMahan figured this revelation would quiet the opponents. He believed that those who were morally opposed could now see that the medical benefits of the research would far outweigh concerns about the use of human embryos.

However, McMahan's hopes were dashed when it became apparent that the reaction from opponents of embryonic stem cell research simply restated their earlier opposition. McMahan writes that this response was "baffling" but on the other hand the author understands that the real therapeutic promise of the research entails the "deliberate destruction of embryos" (170). A great deal of the hope for health solutions that could be derived from this research lies in the prospect of "our being able to clone an embryo from a particular individual, derive stem cells from it, and use those stem cells to grow tissue" -- or even grow an organ that would match genetically to that organ that needs replacement (McMahan, 171).

The author dips into some cryptic narrative when he explains that notwithstanding the possibility that a "…surviving embryo from which stem cells had been obtained would not have to be killed…it could instead be indefinitely frozen," those who believe it is morally wrong would not support the above-mentioned process. Among those that would not support this policy -- those that believe "…embryos are innocent human beings" and even using them solely as a way to help others is wrong -- is former president George W. Bush. Bush claimed to believe this, McMahan explains, "…perhaps after conferring with the same Higher Power whom he claimed to have consulted about invading Iraq and who advised him to go ahead" (171).

McMahan wonders sarcastically if in fact that "Higher Power" is really "…a group of voters known as the 'religious right'" (171). That having been said, McMahan returns to a more serious aspect of the issue, pointing out two "false" assumptions: a) the embryo is the "earliest stage in the existence of someone like you or me"; and b) we have the "same moral status at all times at which we exist… [and] we mattered just as much when we were embryos as we do now" (171). McMahan correctly points out that the American society has long since accepted the notion of assisted conception "even though it involves the creation of more embryos than will be implanted" (172). Moreover, it has been socially acceptable to create several embryos in vitro, and either kill them, let them die, or "more commonly," freeze them "indefinitely" so while they exist, they are neither alive nor dead.

The author's argument based on the paragraph above is that if it is morally wrong to "kill it for its stem cells" than it should also be morally wrong to "deliberately create embryos" knowing full well that "many of them will never be implanted" (172). Moving on to other points of objection that opponents employ in their arguments, McMahan believes it is truly splitting moral hairs to argue that freezing an embryo (which will likely never be used) is morally more appropriate than letting it die. "…The vast majority of embryos that are frozen cannot, though for contingent reasons, be enabled to develop into adult persons and thus will have to be allowed to die at some point" (174).

Freezing embryos just postpones their deaths "…without extending their lives," the author argues (174), and in the process freezing them simply shifts the responsibility for allowing them to die to other folks at a later date. At this point in his narrative, the philosophy professor then brings Bush into the discussion again. It is within the aforementioned point about postponing the ultimate death of myriad frozen embryos that McMahan views the Bush veto announcement as "…deceptive and manipulative posturing" (174). When Bush surrounded himself with babies he claims were developed from "…supernumerary embryos" it was basically a political stunt, McMahan argues, because even with the most "aggressive harvesting of embryonic stem cells that scientists could possibly desire," those embryos left over and frozen "would still greatly exceed any possible level of demand" (175).

There was no sarcasm or cryptic attacks on former president Bush noted in the decisions of eight states to go ahead with their own embryonic stem cell research. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) (January, 2008) California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York, all established their own research facilities and regulations prior to President Barack Obama's executive order in 2009 that overturned the Bush policy and opened the door for this research using federal resources (NCSL).

In California, the NCSL reports, voters passed Proposition 71 that funded adult and embryonic stem cell research; the proposition provided $3 billion in bonds to be used beginning in 2005 (but never more than $350 per year). When a lawsuit was launched to block the voter-backed proposition, which slowed the process of setting up laboratories and hiring staff for the California institute of Regenerative Medicine, then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger "loaned the institute $150 million in August, 2006," thus California began its own research.

Also in 2006, the Maryland legislature created the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund, providing grants for embryonic stem cell research; $15 million was awarded to the fund, the NCSL explained. In New York State, legislators set aside $100 million for The Empire State Stem Cell Trust in order to create an active research facility for the purpose of researching the applications of embryonic stem cell research (NCSL).

Less than three months after taking office, President Obama issued an executive order that removed the restrictions that had been placed on the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. "The purpose of this order," Obama wrote, "is to remove…limitations on scientific inquiry, to expand NIH support for the exploration of human stem cell research, and in so doing to enhance the contribution of America's scientists to important new discoveries and new therapies for the benefit of human kind."

Shortly after Obama's executive order, a Federal District Court placed a preliminary injunction on federal funding for Embryonic Stem Cells, citing the Dickey-Wicker legislation passed by the U.S. Congress, which prevented the destruction of a human embryo during any research project (Harvard Law Review, 2011). After several months when no federal funds were allowed to be spent on embryonic stem cell research, the D.C. Circuit Court "vacated the preliminary injunction," basing the overturn of the injunction on the fact that the Dickey-Wicker's definition of research is "flexible"… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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