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Why Do People Oppose Stem Cell Research?

The ‘potentiality’ problem

❶Embryonic stem cell research: Further difficulties for the view that full human status is acquired at fertilization arise from advances in reproductive biology.

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Stem cell research would deviate efforts from other health strategies
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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. An investigation of the economic and ethical arguments made against research with human embryonic stem cells.

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Stem cell technologies would be very expensive and available only to rich countries and to rich people It is indisputable that most novel medical technologies are expensive. Stem cell research would deviate efforts from other health strategies It is difficult to tell in advance what type of research will give rise to what type of benefit.

The following quotation is from Professor Iain Torrance, Professor of Divinity in Aberdeen personal communication , on the subject of co-creation: Somatic cell nuclear transfer is immoral as it involves creating embryos only to destroy them The essential problem here is to decide at what stage of development a human embryo acquires the interests—and the rights to protect these interests—that characterize a human being, i.

Open in a separate window. EMBO Reports , 2 , 2—5. Aristotle and the Arabic and European Traditions. Perspectives from Moral Tradition. USA , 87 , — The phase when the baby could survive if born prematurely. If a life is lost, we tend to feel differently about it depending on the stage of the lost life.

A fertilized egg before implantation in the uterus could be granted a lesser degree of respect than a human fetus or a born baby. More than half of all fertilized eggs are lost due to natural causes. If the natural process involves such loss, then using some embryos in stem cell research should not worry us either.

Whatever moral status the human embryo has for us, the life that it lives has a value to the embryo itself.

If we judge the moral status of the embryo from its age, then we are making arbitrary decisions about who is human. For example, even if we say formation of the nervous system marks the start of personhood, we still would not say a patient who has lost nerve cells in a stroke has become less human.

But there is a difference between losing some nerve cells and losing the complete nervous system - or never having had a nervous system. If we are not sure whether a fertilized egg should be considered a human being, then we should not destroy it.

A hunter does not shoot if he is not sure whether his target is a deer or a man. The embryo has no moral status at all An embryo is organic material with a status no different from other body parts.

If we destroy a blastocyst before implantation into the uterus we do not harm it because it has no beliefs, desires, expectations, aims or purposes to be harmed. By taking embryonic stem cells out of an early embryo, we prevent the embryo from developing in its normal way. This means it is prevented from becoming what it was programmed to become — a human being.

Different religions view the status of the early human embryo in different ways. For example, the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and conservative Protestant Churches believe the embryo has the status of a human from conception and no embryo research should be permitted. Judaism and Islam emphasize the importance of helping others and argue that the embryo does not have full human status before 40 days, so both these religions permit some research on embryos.

Other religions take other positions. EuroStemCell factsheet on ethical issues relating to the sources of embyronic stem cells. EuroStemCell factsheet on the science of embryonic stem cells. This factsheet was created by Kristina Hug. Images courtesy of Wellcome Images: Embryonic stem cell research: What are the issues being discussed? What is the rationale for different opinions?

Some people see destroying a blastula for its cells as destroying an unborn child. In , a United States District Court "threw out a lawsuit that challenged the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. Specifically, it legalizes the process of cloning a human embryo, and implanting the clone into a womb, provided that the clone is then aborted and used for medical research. Missouri Constitutional Amendment 2 Missouri Amendment Two was a law that legalized certain forms of embryonic stem cell research in the state.

However, as of June 6, , there were delays in the implementation of the California program and it is believed that the delays will continue for the significant future. Several states, in what was initially believed to be a national migration of biotech researchers to California, [15] have shown interest in providing their own funding support of embryonic and adult stem cell research. Other states have, or have shown interest in, additional restrictions or even complete bans on embryonic stem cell research.

Policy stances on stem cell research of various political leaders in the United States have not always been predictable. As a rule, most Democratic Party leaders and high-profile supporters and even rank and file members have pushed for laws and policies almost exclusively favoring embryonic stem cell research. There have been some Democrats who have asked for boundaries be placed on human embryo use.

For example, Carolyn McCarthy has publicly stated she only supports using human embryos "that would be discarded". The Republicans largely oppose embryonic stem cell research in favor of adult stem cell research which has already produced cures and treatments for cancer and paralysis for example, but there are some high-profile exceptions who offer qualified support for some embryonic stem cell research. Orrin Hatch R-UT , a vocal abortion opponent , call[ed] for limited federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research A few moderates or Libertarians support such research with limits.

Lincoln Chafee supported federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Ron Paul , a Republican congressman, physician , and Libertarian and Independent candidate for President, has sponsored much legislation , and has had quite complex positions. These Guidelines were prepared to enhance the integrity of human embryonic stem cell research in the public's perception and in actuality by encouraging responsible practices in the conduct of that research.

The guidelines preserve two primary principles. First, that hESC research has the potential to improve our understanding of human health and discover new ways to treat illness. Second, that individuals donating embryos should do so freely, with voluntary and informed consent. The guidelines detail safeguards to protect donating individuals by acquiring informed consent and protecting their identity. In addition, the guidelines contain multiple sections applying to embryos donated in the US and abroad, both before and after the effective date of the guidelines.

Applicants proposing research, may use stem cell lines that are posted on the NIH registry, or may submit an assurance of compliance with section II of the guidelines. Section II is applicable to stem cells derived from human embryos.

First, the hESCs should have been derived from embryos created using an in vitro fertilization procedure for reproductive purposes, and no longer needed for this purpose. Second, the donors who sought reproductive treatment have given written consent for the embryos to be used for research purposes. Third, all written consent forms and other documentation must be provided.

Documentation must be provided regarding the following: All options available to the healthcare facility regarding the embryos in question were explained to the individual who sought reproductive treatment. No payments of any kind may be offered for the donated embryos.

Policies and procedures must be in place at the facility where the embryos were donated to ensure that neither donation nor refusal to donate affects quality of care received by the patient. There must also be a clear distinction between the donor's decision to create embryos for reproductive purposes, and the decision to donate embryos for research.

This is ensured through a number of regulations which follow. First, the decision to create embryos for reproductive purposes must have been made without the influence of researchers proposing usage for the embryos to derive hESCs for research purposes. Consent for the donation of embryos should have been given at the time of donation.

Finally, donors should have been informed that they have the right to withdraw consent at any time until derivation of stem cells from the embryo, or until the identity of the donor can no longer be linked to the embryo. When seeking consent from the donor, they must be informed of what will become of their donation.

The donor must be informed that the embryonic stem cells would be derived from the embryos from research purposes. The donor must also be informed of the procedures that the embryo would undergo in the derivation process, and that the stem cell lines derived from the embryo may be kept for many years.

In addition, the donors must be informed that the donation is not made with direction regarding the intended use of the derived stem cells, and the research is not intended to provide direct medical benefit to the donor. The donor is also to be informed that there may be commercial potential resulting from the research performed, and that the donor is not to benefit from commercial development as a result of the donation.

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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.

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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, ).

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A lot of people don’t realize there are other biuiawjdh.ganic 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.

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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.