Technology has advanced a great deal within the past few years. We have learned so much information about animals genes and what can be done with them. However, with this new information brings new questions and arguments. So far, scientists have successfully cloned a sheep, a monkey, a bull, and are working on an endangered breed of ox, of course cloning animals and conducting research on those animals does not concern many people. When people begin discussing cloning and stem cell research heads turn because it is such a controversial issue.
Is it morally right to destroy a life so that maybe someday others could live? According to an article in People Weekly the theory is that embryonic stem cells could replace any damaged or diseased tissue, curing diseases like Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and diabetes. Sounds like a winning plan to the uneducated hear. The problem that arises with this theory is that scientists must destroy human embryos to make the cells. Michael West, the chief executive of Advanced Cell Technology a Worcester, Massachusetts based company where a majority of their cells come from embryos left over from In Vitro Fertilization.
In Vitro Fertilization, is a process where the sperm from a male and an egg from a female are fertilized outside of the human body in a laboratory. When scientists perform this procedure generally the scientists will extract more than one embryo from the female to ensure that at least one will be fertilized. The rest of the cells are then extra and are not needed. West and other scientists at Advanced Cell Technology have proposed producing stem cells from cloned embryos. This may lead to treatments in which damaged tissue is replaced with what are essentially the patients own cells.
West also explains that unlike other types of cells, embryonic stem cells can probably reproduce forever. These cells will grow for researchers until the last researcher on the Earth, ads West (Herper). When asked in a CNN. com chat room, When do scientists consider an embryo a life? Dr. Jeffrey Kahn the Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota responded with this. It depends on the scientist, but you would get views ranging from at conception to at birth. Many people consider the stage of embryos we are talking about to be pre-embryos since they are so early in their development.
Some scientists believe that there are many advantages in allowing human cloning to proceed. Dr. Richard Seed, an advocate for human cloning suggests that some day it may be possible to reverse the aging process from what could be learned through cloning. Scientists also believe that they might be able to help heart attack victims by cloning the persons healthy heart cells and injecting them into the areas of their heart that were damaged from the heart attack. Through cloning, infertile couples could also be able to have children. It is a fact that the average person carries eight defective genes in them.
These genes cause people to become sick when they would otherwise be healthy, through human cloning technology it may be possible to guarantee that the average person may no longer suffer from our defective genes. Scientists hope that one-day we may also be able to clone livers and kidneys for transplant patience. One of the first benefits expected from cloning technology is scientists should be able to clone bone marrow for children and adults who suffer from leukemia. Cancer may no longer be a problem if scientist learn how to switch cells on and off through cloning.
Cloning could even benefit the fashion world, by providing an alternative to silicone breast implants as well as other cosmetic procedures that may cause immune diseases. Cloning would allow doctors to manufacture bone, fat, connective tissue, or cartilage that is an exact match of the patients. Which would help people who have been deformed or have had a limb amputated due to accidents to have their features repaired with safer technologies. These are just a few of the advantages cloning technology can help mankind, and why many scientists are against the ban of human cloning (humancloning. g).
On the other hand, there are also some scientists that think that the cloning of humans should not be allowed. Michele Orecklin reports in Time magazine that Dr. Leon Kass an eminent University of Chicago Bioethicist makes his views against human cloning well known. Kass this past year was picked by President Bush to head an advisory panel on stem cell research. Kass had recently been changing from a political thinker to a political player because of his opposition to human cloning and he believes that cloning robs us of our humanity.
On June 20, 2001 Dr. Kass gave testimony on his opinions of human cloning in front of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Kass started his testimony by saying that he supported the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001 for two reasons. The first reason given by Kass was that human cloning was unethical, both in itself as well as to what it could lead to. His second reason was that he believes that this bill is the only reasonable chance at preventing human cloning from happening. Here is an excerpt from his testimony.
The vast majority of Americans object to human cloning, and on multiple moral grounds, among them the following. It constitutes unethical experimentation on the child-to-be, subjecting him or her to enormous risks of bodily and developmental abnormalities. It threatens individuality, by deliberately saddling the clone with a genotype that has already lived and to whose previous life its life will always be compared. It6 confuses identity by denying the clone to biological parents and by making it the twin of its older copy.
It represents a giant step toward turning procreation into manufacture (especially when understood as the harbinger of non-therapeutic genetic manipulations to come). And it is a radical form of parental despotism and child abuse even when practiced freely and on a small scale. Permitting human cloning means saying yes to the dangerous principle that we are entitled to determine and design the genetic make-up of our children. If we do not wish to travel down this eugenic road, an effective ban on cloning human beings is needed, and needed now before we are overtaken by events.
There are also many other reasons why human cloning is considered unethical. However most of them do involve the question of whether or not it is acceptable to destroy many potential lives to advance our knowledge as humans, and possibly someday cure many diseases in the process (Kass). Politicians are also very interested in the debate over cloning and stem cell research. One group of representatives known as the New Democratic Coalition collectively wrote a letter to president Bush stating their support for stem cell research using all types of stem cells.
The coalition asked the president to allow the recently issued National Institute of Healths guidelines to remain in place because they provide tough requirements that enable scientists to perform research within the constraints of federal standards. They go on to say that stem cell research could lead to advances in treatment of many diseases and disabilities like Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease. The coalition then states that they appreciate the Presidents support for using stem cells from spontaneous abortions and adult stem cells. However, they do feel that limiting the research to just these two sources will impede the progress.
They specifically point out that embryonic stem cell research offers hope to over one million American children that have juvenile diabetes because of the potential to turn the stem cells into insulin-producing cells. So far there is no evidence that adult stem cells can be used for this treatment. Concluding the coalition states, We have entered the twenty-first century and are on the verge of breakthrough biomedical discoveries that could save millions of lives The United States has an obligation to demonstrate our continued leadership in this arena and we can only do so with the support of out government.
Thirty-six democratic United States representatives signed this letter including Karen McCarthy from Missouri (New Democratic Coalition). When it comes to politics one man stands above the rest, whether you like him or not the president is the head politician. So I thought it wise to see what he had to say about stem cell research. George W. Bushs first big televised chat with the nation was about bioethics. This is a bit odd considering he barely even touched on the issue though the duration of his campaign. Especially a topic as complicated and controversial as this.
Bush compared the decision to concerning federal funding for stem cell research to a decision to send troops to battle. I strongly oppose human cloning, as do most Americans, said Bush. His speech raised all the tough questions. Is an embryo growing in a tube the same as one growing in a womb? Would it be okay to experiment on it if it was to be destroyed anyways? Some people consider answering these questions playing God. Bush warned the nation that these are dangerous waters. So he went on being careful not to step on too many toes.
Bush explained that through private research, over sixty diverse stem cell colonies already exist. These colonies were created from embryos that had previously been destroyed and they can also regenerate themselves forever. Then Bush said this, I have concluded that we should allow federal funds to be used for research on these existing stem cell lines, where life and death has already been made (Goldstein). Through the duration of my research I have been trying to decide what exactly my stance is on this issue.
Like many of the scientists and politicians articles and websites I came across. I found it quite difficult to come to my own conclusion. Both sides post very good arguments. I would love to see Alzheimers, Parkinsons, cancer and other diseases cured. It is not too far off to say that I have a good chance of seeing it happen in my life. However, it should be done in a moral manner. Who determines the morals? Everyones morals are the different. I was raised a Baptist until I was in sixth grade. Then we started attending a Word of Faith church.
My parents played a big role in how I was raised but yet I still do not have the same morals and ethics as them. So my final stance is that this is not an issue of right or wrong. Whoever said, You are either hot or cold, you can be luke warm definitely did not live in the year 2002 and if he is then he has retracted his previous statement. I have done hours of research and I still have not even came close to decision. I do know that in vitro patients would donate the only embryos I would want to be used, for the sole purpose of stem cell research.