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STEM CELL RESEARCH
Stem Cell Research-The ethics behind the issue
March 19, 2010
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This paper describes the ethics in stem cell research. It points out the benefits of the
process, what it does and how it helps individuals. Scientists have shown the many benefits that
this process brings along with it and the types of diseases it can cure. The counterarguments are
also pointed out, in order to show the other side of the argument, what other people think and
what their beliefs are. This scientific process is a very controversial topic nowadays, since the
method through which it is done is very unethical for many people.
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Stem cell Research- The ethics behind the issue Sheila Sierra
As new technology has risen, so have new techniques, such that make life better for
humanity. One example of the contemporary era is stem cell research.
A stem cell is a "generic" cell that can make exact copies of itself indefinitely. In
addition, a stem cell has the ability to produce specialized cells for various tissues in the
body -- such as heart muscle, brain tissue, and liver tissue. Scientists are able to maintain
stem cells forever, developing them into specialized cells as needed (Healthscout, 2009).
Although this issue is controversial today, it brings many benefits to the individuals who
depend on this source to save their lives. This newly discovered medical process promises the
best results for the sick people, in which many lives are saved and the rates of survival are
higher. The controversial question is whether or not this issue is unethical. Based on the
characteristics of this research, it is not unethical due to the benefits it brings to many individuals
who have acquired treatment. Stem cell research has benefitted many lives before and it will
keep on helping many more.
Ever since stem cells were discovered in human cord blood in 1978, many promises were
brought to humanity. It is a research that has saved many lives since it is a process that replaces
defective cells in the body with new ones. “Survival rates were highest (33 percent) for those
bone marrow transplants with matched unrelated donors.”(Sciencedaily, 2004) The survival
rates for patients have increased ever since stem cell research is available through bone marrow
transplant. “Scientists are exploring less controversial avenues of research, using adult stem
cells that are trained to act like embryonic stem cells.” (Watson, n.d.) It is an ethical procedure
since researchers and scientists are trying new, non harmful ways to perform these studies and
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To demonstrate the ethics in this process, doctors will test potential drugs and medicines
without the use of animal and human testers, there will be no more hurtful, unethical testing on
animals and humans, reducing the ethical controversy. With this “new discovery,” a limb and an
organ can be grown in a lab all by itself, outside of the human or animal body. “Limbs and
organs could be grown in a lab from stem cells and then used in transplants or to help treat
illnesses.” (Buzzle, 2010). These advancements benefit everyone, especially those who act
“morally correct” according to the general denomination of the term, for example those who base
their morals on religion.
This research is working positively today, and it promises even more for the future of the
ill people in the entire world.
Of course, there are dozens of other diseases stem cell research is also working on,
including treatments for cancer and cardiovascular issues, vision or ocular disease
processes like retinitis pigmentosa and corneal regeneration, as well as musculoskeletal
disorders like muscular dystrophy.(Articlesbase, 2010)
Stem cell research promises the cure for many diseases in a near future. There were
experiments done in mice that could not walk and stem cells were implanted in their spinal cords
and they could walk again. This means that in near future cells in specific body parts will be
replaced and people will be able to have a healthier future.
Stem cell research is a great deal for those who need a cure and it has demonstrated
positive results in humans and animals, however, there are arguments that oppose this issue. First
of all, it is argued that stem cell research is a slippery slope to human cloning, in other words, it
is cloning in a smaller degree, and this duplication process is considered, for many, unethical.
This leads to the conclusion that those who are in favor of stem cell research are also in favor of
human cloning. Additionally, the way the cells are obtained and transplanted is harmful. The
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bone marrow transplant is hurtful and harms the body of the donor and the researches obtain the
cells through the human embryos.
A life is a life and that should never be compromised. A fertilized egg should be valued
as a human life even if it is in its very first weeks. Destroying human life in the hopes of
saving human life is not ethical. (Stem Cell Research-Pros and Cons, 2008).
Some believe that human life starts at the union of a sperm and egg. Thus, they believe that the
usage of an embryo is killing a human being in order to save another.
These statements are not reliable in terms of ethics because these methods are not
necessarily true. First, stem cell research is not considered cloning because it repairs cells and
changes the damaged ones for healthy ones. “Clinics create more embryos than are needed over
the course of a fertility treatment and are left with excess embryos that are often discarded.”
(Stem Cells, n.d.). Lives are not being taken away because discarded embryos are used. The
discarded embryo usage is a very huge debate, the whole reason why some people believe that
stem cell research is unethical. Even though to some this might seem unethical, the embryos in
the lab are not considered human life unless in the mother’s womb. “If potential parents decide
against having more children, scientists working with stem cells might ask them to consider
donating the unneeded embryos to research” (Reeves, n.d.). Many embryos are created, and
couple use them to have babies, but when they do not want to have any more children, then the
discarded embryos can have a better use. Concerning the pain and harm done to the body, there
is anesthesia that makes the donors sleep through the process and not feel any pain at all.
The ethics behind this issue is that stem cell research is not an unethical process, based
on all the characteristics and new methods implied that benefit the lives of many. People can be
part of this treatment, without feeling that they are doing something morally wrong. This process
promises many cures in the future, for many diseases that are taking away many lives in the
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present. Ever since it was discovered in 1978, it has benefitted many lives and it will keep on
saving many in the years to come.
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AAAS Policy Brief: Stem Cell Research. (n.d.).March 25, 2009,
Healthscout. (2009, 04 01). Retrieved 16 2010, 2010, from
Reaves, J. (n.d.). The Great Debate Over Stem Cell Research. March 10, 2010,
Stem Cells. (n.d.). March 10, 2010,
Watson, S. (n.d.). How Stem Cells Work. March 10, 2010, http://science.howstuffworks.com/cellular-