Stem Cell Research Essay

Submitted By stevecoopaloop
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Pages: 12

In the early 1980s, scientists at Johns Hopkins University and researchers at the University of Wisconsin isolated and grew stem cells from human embryos. This discovery ushered in a new era of political, religious and ethical controversy (Clemmitt). In discussions of the use of federal funding on embryonic stem cell research, opponents often claim that the government should not conduct research on something that they consider to be ethically wrong. President Obama himself states, “Many thoughtful and decent people are conflicted about, or strongly oppose, this research, however the majority of Americans have come to a consensus that we should pursue this research; that the potential it offers is great and with proper guidelines and strict oversight the perils can be avoided” (nytimes). Several facts are clear, human embryonic stem cell research is being conducted all over the world, the lack of federal funding hurts our nation’s scientific development and advancement, the very thing that made the United States into the superpower we are today, and the potential medical breakthroughs discovered through stem cell research could save millions of lives. By evidence of this, federal funding should be used on stem cell research derived from in vitro fertilization embryos.
On March 9, 2009 Obama signed an executive order that removed funding restrictions put in place by President George W. Bush. Bush was the first to allow scientists to study human embryonic stem cells with federal funds, but he personally opposed the research on moral grounds because the cells can't be made without dismantling human embryos. To discourage the destruction of additional embryos, he limited federal funding to cell lines that had already been made by August 2001, when his policy went into effect (National Academies). However, scientists claimed that given the number of unhampered embryos at that time, the odds of getting one for research were slim to none (Kaplan). While Bush was in office, congress attempted to pass the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act twice. This act permitted federal funding for frozen embryos that would otherwise be discarded; however Bush vetoed this both times. Noticeably, Bush let his emotion overcome his reasoning considering the fact that he would rather the embryos be destroyed than have valuable research conducted upon them. Obama's executive order removes that restriction, making hundreds of newer lines eligible for federal funding. Obama claimed that the Bush administration “politicized scientific investigation” (Culture Wars). Obama later states that scientists should be able to work, “free from manipulation or coercion, ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda.” In our nation, we want scientific advisors to be appointed based on their credentials and experience, not by their politics or ideology.
Now, before we can delve into why the government should fund stem cell research, we must first understand what embryos are and the two different kinds of stem cell research. Kristin Monroe states in her book, Fundamentals of Stem Cell Research, that an embryo is “the product of fertilization. Once fertilization is completed, the resulting single-cell zygote divides to produce two cells; these two divide to produce four; four divide to produce eight, to form a blastocyst. The cells of the blastocysts, known as blastomeres, are separated into two parts, an outer layer, called the trophoblast, which eventually becomes the placenta, and an inner cell mass that contributes to the future embryo.” Embryonic stem cells, stem cells taken from the inner cell mass of a 4-5 day old embryo are considered totipotent, which means they can become any type of tissue in the body as well as develop into a separate individual. On the other hand, adult stem cells are found in bone marrow, fat, muscle, or nervous tissue. These cells are multipotent, meaning they are found in a given tissue in