Monday, November 06, 2006

The Stem Cell Controversy – A Short Explanation

My understanding of the stem cell controversy is, first of all, that there are five types of stem cells under study:

1. adult stem cells
2. cord-blood stem cells
3. embryonic stem cells from aborted fetuses
4. stem cells from laboratory embryos from harvested eggs
5. stem cells from laboratory cloned embryos.

Large private investments have been made into research and application of disease cures from adult stem cells (taken from the adult to be treated) and from cord-blood stem cells (taken from the placental umbilical cord of newborns); some successful cures have been developed, and others seem close to fruition.

Little or no private money has been invested in research on embryonic stem cells because investors doubt that any worthwhile developments are realistic. This does not mean that research on embryonic stem cells cannot produce results, but it does mean that government money is probably needed to fund such research if such research is to be done in a major way.

President Bush, for the first time ever, authorized funding by the federal government into research on embryonic stem cells from harvested eggs - only on embryos already in existence and slated for eventual destruction because their owner-parents had relinquished ownership and control over them. The number of stem cell lines thusly made available for research was substantial, but limited.

Since many people believe that embryonic stem cells from whatever source represent life and a potential human being, President Bush would not authorize federal funds for research on new embryos (whose use for stem cells requires their destruction). History has taught us that not only would embryos be created for the sole purpose of research (very large amounts of money are at stake here), but women would be tempted to abort fetuses for profit. There already is a significant industry in the United States wherein women sell their eggs for research, a practice that is illegal in Great Britain and poses some danger to these women.

Congress this year passed two bills relating to this controversy. One law made it illegal for aborted fetuses to be used in stem cell research; the other law would provide federal funds for stem cell research on new embryos created in the laboratory. President Bush signed the first bill into law and vetoed the second. Proponents of government funding of embryonic stem cell research have heavily criticized his veto and have worked at the state level to gain state funding – successfully in California and currently under consideration in Missouri, which has a bill on the state ballot that would also allow the cloning of human beings and then require their destruction prior to gestation.

The basic objection to governmental funding of embryonic stem cells may soon become moot if scientists, who say they have made progress in this direction, are successful in creating stem cells without disturbing the embryo.

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At 1:12 PM, Blogger megan crites said...

I to am doing a blog on stem cell research I have done a few research papers on this topic.I like that you put the facts out on it. I am a supporter of stem cell research.


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