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Posted on August 18th, 2012, by

Today stem cells are the topic of heated debates which has its proponents and opponents. Embryonic stem cells are derived from embryos. Stems are primitive types of cells. Nowadays embryonic stem cells give the science a great chance to abate the people’s pain and alleviate sufferings. All over the world people suffer from diseases which can be successfully treated with the help of stem cells. The necessity of use embryonic stem cells in different experiments is obvious, as they can help to find the treatment from heart diseases, diabetes and even certain types of cancer.

However, there are a number of arguments against these experiments. It seems that the most powerful argument against stem cells researches is the religious one. Human embryos consist of stem cells and the Church claims embryos to be human beings. Pope John Paul II wrote his The Gospel of Life in 1995. There he mentioned: Human embryos obtained in vitro are human beings and are subjects with rights; their dignity and right to life must be respected from the first moment of their existence. It is immoral to produce human embryos destined to be exploited as disposable biological material (Lee, 2004, 260). In accordance with these words the destruction of cell stems is a moral crime, as well as a legal one.

Together with the religious argument there is also a scientific one which proves the illegality of such actions. Science states that life begins at the moment of conception and this fact is proved by numerous researches. Contrary to what many non-scientists believe, human beings are not constructed in the womb – they develop. In fact, all the major organ systems are initiated within the first three weeks after conception (Moran, 2003, p. 198). The process of embryonic development is long-term process and it is impossible to say exactly when it starts and when the fetus becomes a child and there is a group of scientists that state that embryonic stem cells are already children.

If to treat a stem cell as an unborn child than this problem is closely connected with the polemic about abortion. In such a way, an unborn child is a person automatically has rights under the United States Constitution, including the right to life.  Destruction of stem cells are regarded as a discrimination against babies since fetus is recognized as a human being. Opponents of this point of view state that those, who talk about the rights of women, forget about the rights of unborn children, who are already living creatures and have their rights, which should be protected by the Constitution (Coady, 1997). In many cases legalized abortion becomes a discrimination against fathers of the unborn babies. They have no legal rights to save their own babies as all decision is taken only by women. So called Gallup poll, taken in the United States in 2003  showed that about  72% of respondents believed that spouse should have been notified about the abortion decision and only 26 % were against notification. What is notable, about 79% of male respondents expressed in favor of notification while this figure among female respondents was about 67%. (The Pew Research Center) This statistics prove that husbands or spouses of women want to know about pregnancy and abortion. It also indirectly proves that decision about abortion can not be taken only by women. Let’s imagine the case when a father of the unborn child is ready to put time and effort and to grow up a child but woman wants to make an abortion. From the one side there are all conditions for the future child to have normal life and from the other side a woman has all rights to make an abortion and man, even being a father of the child, can not stop her. Very often defendants of the rights of women forget about the rights of men and children, and these rights shouldn’t be neglected by any means.

Fetal rights is a comparatively new notion, which stands for new judicial, social and moral norm. This notion means that unborn children possess their own rights and deserve same treatment and protection as children do (Coady, 1997).  This means that women, doctors or researches who destruct embryos or embryonic stem cells  can be criminally charged for causing voluntary of involuntary harm to the unborn children.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of arguments for the usage of stem cells in researches and experiments. Even National Institutes of Health in different countries try to convince people of the truth of these experiments: research involving human pluripotent stem cells…promises new treatments and possible cures for many debilitating diseases and injuries, including Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, burns and spinal cord injuries.

The NIH believes the potential medical benefits of human pluripotent stem cell technology are compelling and worthy of pursuit in accordance with appropriate ethical standards. (Medical Research Council, 2002). Today it is proven that these stem cells can help to save people’s lives.

It is necessary to note that embryonic stem cells are usually extracted from young human embryos, which are usually left after the abortion or in-vitro fertilization (IVF) at fertility clinics. There is a number of alternative variants to deal with these frozen embryos left from IVF: they can be discarded, the embryos can be given to another couple, this process is called embryo adoption. During this process the embryos can be preserved at very low temperature or they can be used for further researches. In such a way, there is no controversy about unborn child’s life. All in all, the cells that are used for researches are about four days old and so they aren’t real human beings (Moran, 2003).

Emotional reasons are the main barrier for a new couple to receive the embryos and very few parents want to have baby in such a way from these considerations. The thawed embryos don not guarantee the starting of a pregnancy.

To preserve the embryos is very expensive especially at low temperatures and the number of embryos at this stage is great. By the middle of 2003 there were more than 400,000 stored embryos and the necessity of such embryos is low.  So, most of the embryos are usually discarded (Morgan, 2003). The aim of the experiments where these embryos are used is to prevent dreadful diseases.

To sum up, today stem cells are subject of great disputes and the usage of these cells has its pros and contras. On the one hand, there religious organizations and a group of scientists which consider embryonic stem cells as unborn children who have their right for life and free choice. He appears a moral argument: whether we have a right to take these cells for experiments or to give a birth to a child. On the other hand, the statistics show that cells for experiments are taken after abortion or artificial fertilization, so there is no possibility that they could have give birth to a child. These cells can be used for great purpose, such as cancer and other dreadful diseases investigation, giving hope for future and saving people’s life in the future. All the arguments for experiments cannot influence the most pro-life organizations that do not allow to use the embryos in different kinds of research. They claim that these embryos are human persons, and so to kill this embryo means to kill this person. Such an attitude do not let the use of embryos and thank to it millions of people continue to die every day. Earlier the doctors carried out the experiments on themselves for the sake of life-saving. Their great deeds are remembered by their ancestors with reverence and gratitude (Wertz).

In my opinion, embryos in no way can be compared with the life of unborn children and thus, the use of embryo stem cells can be justified. Actually, at the moment we have no alternative as human embryos can not survive after abortion but using them for experiments to cure the cancer and other dreadful diseases we can save thousands of human lives and bring positive input in the development of medicine. People continue arguing about correlation between stem cells and unborn children and possible rights of the children that do not exist, while every day hundreds of people are dying from cancer and other illnesses without these cells.

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