Skip Nav

Stem cell laws and policy in the United States

This article is a part of the guide:

❶And so, to my mind, the argument at the heart of the embryonic stem cell debate is the argument about human equality. It deals with questions on ethics, morality, and such.

A Learning Aid for UK Medical Students

The ‘potentiality’ problem
Question & Answer
Search Here:

Along the same line, we now universally accept that a human being is dead when no contact with the outside world can be demonstrated by central nervous function. Certainly, death is regarded as having occurred well before every individual cell of the body has died. The medieval church took the view that an embryo acquired a soul, or it became animatus , at the same time that it became formatus , i.

This doctrine was derived from Aristotle who curiously believed males to become formatus at 40 days, whereas females were not so until 80 days of gestation. The medieval church held that the abortion of an embryo that was neither formatus nor animatus was only a fineable offence; and it was only after an embryo had become animatus that abortion became a mortal sin. At the core of the refusal of the Roman Catholic Church to countenance embryo research is a doctrine by Pope Pius IX, who declared in that an embryo acquires full human status at fertilization.

This may have been partly in response to an increased frequency of abortion but it is likely also to have been influenced by a desire to bring Christian doctrine into line with 19 th century embryology. But women lose large numbers of pre-implantation embryos throughout their reproductive life. These embryos are not mourned, they are not given burial and no one says prayers for them.

The intra-uterine coil, widely used as a method of contraception—though not permitted by the Roman Catholic church—is designed to prevent implantation of embryos and, again, is not regarded as being morally reprehensible.

Further difficulties for the view that full human status is acquired at fertilization arise from advances in reproductive biology. Somatic cell nuclear transfer does not involve fertilization and thus turns the Pius IX doctrine ad absurdum , since it makes it possible to see in any somatic cell whose nucleus can be introduced into an oocyte, the potential for giving rise to a complete human being.

When reprogramming of cells becomes better understood, it may be possible to convert somatic cells into embryos without the need for an oocyte. If, ultimately, any somatic cell has the potential of being grown into a complete embryo and, subsequently, into a human being, it would logically mean that we should ascribe a moral status to every cell in the body—a concept that is clearly ridiculous. The view that an embryo does not acquire the status of a human being until it is obviously of human form with a central nervous system and organs as is the view of the Protestant church , or even until it is delivered which is the view of the Jewish religion , is more defensible on philosophical grounds than is stating that human status is acquired at fertilization.

Of course, any decision relating to the particular point in development at which an embryo acquires full human status must be partially arbitrary.

There are other cases where there is blurring at the interface of two categories or where distinctions are made slightly arbitrarily. This is the case in distinguishing between plants and animals; in distinguishing between male and female; and in distinguishing between the living and dead at the end of life. But the fact that making distinctions can sometimes be difficult is not an argument for making fundamentalist distinctions or making no distinction at all. Francis Cornford wrote in the Microcosmographica Academica: A little reflection will make it evident that the Wedge argument implies the admission that the persons who use it cannot prove that the action is not just.

If they could, that would be the sole and sufficient reason for not doing it, and this argument would be superfluous. It is inherent in what Cornford writes that the fear that one may not behave justly on a future occasion is hardly a reason for not behaving justly on the present occasion. In addition to this philosophical argument, one should consider that there are also cogent biological reasons for opposing reproductive cloning using cell nuclear transfer.

This is a form of vegetative reproduction, a technique used only by plants and a few lower animals. The late William Hamilton pointed out Hamilton et al.

He argues that it is the challenge of parasitism that makes the use of sexual reproduction, with its re-assortment of genes at each generation, advantageous in evolutionary terms. In fact, the use of reproductive cloning can be defended only for farm animals, where this technique may be the best for producing, for example, cows that are resistant to BSE or sheep resistant to scrapie.

Reproductive cloning should not be applied to Man and its widespread use might be evolutionarily harmful. We are also not sure yet whether somatic cells used for generating embryos carry mutations that have the potential to harm later generations. However, this is not a problem when using stem cells for therapeutic purposes. The Universal Declaration on the Human Genome http: Vigilance will certainly always be needed to prevent the misuse of this technology, but it is unlikely that the use of stem cells carries any particularly devastating dangers.

This proposal derives from John Harris who is sufficiently impressed by the promises of stem cell therapy to believe that we may have to face a population that can live two or even more centuries Harris, Success on that sort of scale seems a long way off—but it would be an accolade to medicine to have that set of problems to face!

I wish to close with another quotation from the Microcosmographica Academica: The present arguments for doing nothing are no more potent than all preceding ones.

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. For example, the United Methodist church supports abortions rights, but opposes the research industry's demand for embryos. Many ethicists and scientists also oppose embryonic research. In a July statement, bioethicists, scientists and legal scholars said they objected to embryonic stem cell research on the grounds that such research is both unethical and unnecessary.

Some of these critics argue that recent research showing that adult stem cells may be more versatile than previously thought, say scientists may soon be able to derive stem cells from adults.

Those who are opposed to this research also believe that their tax dollars should not go to supporting the research regardless of whether or not the research is permitted. Most critics of the embryo research ban contend that week-old blastocysts are not human beings, and that destroying those embryos does not constitute killing. At one week, embryos are merely a cluster of cells and not deserving of the protections afforded to others, they say.

When conceived naturally, a blastocyst has not been implanted in the uterus by that time. Most scientists argue that an embryo is not a person until it is at least two weeks old, when it develops a so-called primitive streak, the first evidence of a nervous system.

A number of religious groups support embryonic stem cell research, and many Protestant sects and most Islamic and Jewish theologians also do not consider a young embryo to be a human being. Conspicuously, such criticism has even come from researchers themselves. Similarly, fertility expert and former president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Lord Winston has warned of a public backlash against stem cell research if it fails to deliver on some of the "hype" surrounding potential treatments.

Notably, a fundamental impediment to the widespread acceptance of embryonic stem cell research is the destruction of the embryo. Consequently, some stem cell researchers are working to develop techniques of isolating stem cells that are as potent as embryonic stem cells, but do not require the destruction of a human embryo. Some believe that human somatic cells can be coaxed to "de-differentiate" and revert to an embryonic state. Researchers at Harvard University, led by Kevin Eggan, have attempted to transfer the nucleus of a somatic cell into an existing embryonic stem cell, thus creating a new stem cell line.

Another study published in August also indicates that differentiated cells can be reprogrammed to an embryonic-like state by introducing four specific factors. Researchers at Advanced Cell Technology, led by Robert Lanza, reported the successful derivation of a stem cell line using a process similar to preimplantation genetic diagnosis, in which a single blastomere is extracted from a blastocyst.

It should be noted that this process has not yet demonstrated the ability of donor blastocysts to survive to term as well after blastomere harvesting. Nevertheless, the Lanza technique may in future allow for the creation of stem cells without embryonic destruction. Arguments Against Embryonic Stem Cell Research 1 Embryos are lives An embryo is actually a human; it should be valued as highly as a human life.

Based upon this reasoning, the subsequent argument against embryonic stem cell research is that human life is inherently valuable and should not be voluntarily destroyed.

Table of Contents

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Aug 09,  · The Case Against Stem Cell Research Opponents of research on embryonic cells, including many religious and anti-abortion groups, contend that embryos are human beings with the same rights — and thus entitled to the same protections against abuse — as anyone else.

Privacy FAQs

Mar 15,  · This decision comes amidst a heated debate regarding the medical and economic potential of stem cell research as against its ethical pitfalls. The scientific, legal, ethical and philosophical arguments have been discussed extensively (Mieth, ; Colman and Burley, ).

About Our Ads

A lot of people don’t realize there are other ladies.mlnic stem cell research, unlike the others, in order to utilize a stem cell derived from a human embryo, it requires the destruction of that embryo – the destruction of life. Sep 05,  · The Pew Forum and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press have done polling on this issue over the last six or seven years and have found that Americans generally favor embryonic stem cell research.

Cookie Info

What are the arguments against stem cell research? Stem Cell Research I strongly oppose human cloning, as do most Americans. We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for spare body parts, or creating life for our convenience. Pros and Cons of Stem Cell Research. These new developments could help win stem cell research more support from those against embryonic stem cell research since they don't require the destruction of blastocysts. The use of embryonic stem cells for research involves the destruction of blastocysts formed from laboratory-fertilized human.