Sunday, November 4, 2007

Self Analysis

Throughout my entire research process I have tried to be as unbiased as possible, researching both sides of the binary issue of stem cell research. I have provided information about the pros and cons and general facts concerning embryonic stem cell research; however it is difficult to completely put all personal bias aside when presenting such information on a controversial topic. I am personally in favor of embryonic stem cell research as a whole, and feel even though presenting both arguments, I have found that I have argued more for the supporters. I believe that an embryo is not considered human until it has successfully attached to a woman’s uterus. This being said I don’t think using embryonic stem cells before this occurs is killing human life. Many eggs become fertilized, but do not successfully implant into a woman’s uterus to develop into a child. I believe it is ethical to use excess embryos from in vetro fertilization treatments that would otherwise be discarded. I also believe using embryonic stem cells is more of an advantage than using adult human stem cells. Embryonic stem cells offer researchers more of an opportunity to manipulate the cell into any other type of cell to work with.
I have found federal funding to be a big issue concerning the advancement of stem cell research. Like I have previously stated, the upcoming 2008 election will impact the federal funding debate. I think if a democrat is elected, federal funding will be made available for research. This will increase the rate at which scientists will be able to research since they will be able to obtain the needed material and equipment using the money provided.
Through my research I have found that stem cell research is advancing at a rapid pace, and even though there is yet to be a cure found, we are on the right track to do so in the near future. Since testing on animals is already proven itself successful, as shown with the works of Oliver Smithies, the UNC professor who just recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, testing and achievement with humans is the next advancement to occur. Within the next couple of decades I believe all of the scientists’ research will have led to cures in diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, along with successful cell transplants. All testing and research is worth the time, effort and money for searching for cures to help the human race.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Election of 2008

As federal funding of embryonic stem cell research is currently a heated discussion topic, the presidential hopefuls for 2008 have each developed a platform on the issue. As a general consensus, the democrats support federal funding of the research, whereas the republicans oppose it. Current President Bush vetoed a bill that would have loosened the restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Front democratic runner, Hilary Clinton disagrees with the position of our current president and supports funding the research process. Barack Obama, also a democratic front runner, is in full support of federal funding the issue as shows in his statement in a debate, “I stand in full support of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act as I did when this bill was introduced and sent to the President’s desk in the 109th Congress.” John Edwards, another democratic presidential hopeful is also in full support of expanding federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. On the other hand, republican presidential candidates such as Mitt Romney and John McCain oppose stem cell research that uses embryos from cloned human embryos, but do support the research using embryos left over from fertility treatments.
The advancement of stem cell research lies heavily on the outcome of our upcoming presidential election concerning the aid of federal funding. This topic will most likely be an influence in the vote of the American public.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Implications Post

If this issue were not to be resolved and the debate of ethics and federal funding continue to be argued, embryonic stem cell research would continue to advance at the same rate as it is now: slower than what it could be with the proper support and funding. If people are willing to come to a consensus, research would be able to further advance at a more rapid pace.
Even though all of the controversies I have discussed throughout this blog will continue to be debated in the future, I believe, whether federally or privately funded, stem cell research will continue to make progress and eventually be able to develop successful treatments and possibly cures. Much of the funding issue will change drastically with the upcoming 2008 presidential election. For example, if Hilary Clinton becomes elected, she has already stated she does not agree with President Bush’s veto on a bill for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, calling it a “ban on hope.” As with other democratic front runners, many believe in supporting embryonic stem cell research with federal funding. Therefore if a democrat is to be elected president in 2008, the chances of a bill being passed to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research is likely. If embryonic stem cell research is able to gain positive support along with ample amount of funding, I believe there will be progress in research, and eventually within the next decade, cures found. Bioethics expert, Christopher Thomas Scott, gives a hypothetical timeline of events he feels will progress with stem cell research, stating that by 2014 the first cell therapy will be used in clinics.
Researching both sides of this issue and seeing the different viewpoints, the controversies over embryonic stem cell research will never completely diminish. Both sides of this binary issue contain strong arguments and reliable facts which rely on the personal opinion of the individual to come to a decision. Since the ethical issue of using embryos for research is not going to completely resolve, the progress of using adult stem cells will advance at a more rapid rate than with using embryos.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Helpful Links:

Many websites I have found discuss the topic of funding the research of stem cells. One I have found shows the view that private funding is the best hope for funding stem cell research.
Others discuss the issue of the federal funding and the veto of President Bush of a bill that would have loosened the restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
A good website I have found showing both sides of the binary issue of stem cell research that is unbiased and brings up several points on the issue:
Issues of religion have been raised on the ethical issue of embryonic stem cell research and whether an embryo is considered a human.
Several of the other websites I have found have been helpful in understanding what an embryonic stem cell is and how the research will be able to help in finding cures of several diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. These websites show the distinction between a human adult stem cell and an embryonic stem cell, along with the pros and cons of the use of both.
An informative fact sheet:(1)

Thursday, October 25, 2007


As this blog is an English class project, through reading my classmates’ blogs, I have found some of them contain relevant information pertaining to my current issue of stem cell research. One fellow classmate is also examining the issue of stem cell research. Mike brings up some similar topics such as federal funding, embryonic vs. adult stem cell usage, and also a very interesting recent post about cloning.
This issue of stem cell research is very closely linked to the issue of abortion. Whether or not a person is in agreement with embryonic stem cell research is highly dependant upon their view of when an embryo is considered a human, the moment of conception or anywhere up to birth. This same question is relevant in the abortion debate: when life begins, whether abortion is ethical or is killing an innocent human being. Two fellow classmates’ blogs discuss the topic of abortion; both touching on the topics of when life begins and legalizing abortion, along with the pros and cons of the matter. Hotshot’s blog contains an interesting illustration on the debate of when life begins for a human from different viewpoints, which emphasizes the various opinions of the public. KGoods discusses the church’s viewpoint on the issue of abortion stating the church opposes it and believes abortion is a “grave evil.” This supports the viewpoint of the church and Pope on my issue where the church is also against and believes embryonic stem cell research “violates the dignity of human life.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Theory...

Using embryonic stem cells for research is more beneficial to scientists in searching for cures of several human diseases, such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s, than using adult stem cells. Using embryonic stem cells, also referred to as “blank” cells can be manipulated into any other type of cell, where as adult cells can only be used for what they have already developed into. For example, an adult liver cell can only be used as a liver cell, whereas an embryonic stem cell can be developed into a heart, liver, nerve, kidney cell, etc, for countless research and to be able to replace a damaged cell in an ailing patient. Although the obtaining of embryonic stem cells is controversial and questions a person’s ethical beliefs, influenced by their political, religious, and moral values, using this type of cell will be more valuable and helpful to a scientist’s research. Once a decision of how embryonic cells can be legally obtained (whether through left over embryos from fertility treatments or from abortions), and in addition, federal funding is allowed to aid the process, researches will be able to focus on the real effort of searching for cures, using the more beneficial embryonic stem cells, rather than dealing with the ongoing political battle.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Food For Thought

Take a look at these logical fallacies I have found in researching the definition of a human. Some have based their decision on whether or not to support embryonic stem cell research depending on these assertions:

1) If a human being does not feel pain when he or she is destroyed, it is not immoral to destroy him or her.
2) A human embryo does not feel pain when he or she is destroyed.
3) Therefore, it is not immoral to destroy a human embryo.

1) If a human being has more cells, then that human being is more valuable.
2) An embryo has a very small number of cells.
3) Therefore, embryos are not very valuable.
These conclusions are in correct logical structure, however are not necessarily accurate.

Each individual defines a human being in his or her own way, basing the decision on personal, biased beliefs. As Greg Koukl writes in opposition of using human embryo’s for research: “By any objective, scientific standard, the embryo qualifies as a member of the human race. From the moment of conception the embryo is an individual. The zygote is distinct from mother, father, and other living things, having her own unique genetic fingerprint.” This raises the idea of when exactly an embryo technically becomes defined as a human. Koukl considers the genetic make-up as the defining factor of an embryo becoming a human which is developed at the time of contraception. Therefore, Koukl believes it is wrong to use an embryo for research, believing it is destroying human life. The decision of whether to support or oppose embryonic stem cell research is based primarily on a personal definition of a human being.