For quite some time, now, stem cell research has been a very hot topic. But to understand what you believe, you must first understand both the pros and cons of stem cell research. Here, we will give you an overview of what stem cells are. We will also tell you about common pros and cons cited on each side. Then we will let you decide.
What are Stem Cells?
Stem cells are human cells that have not yet matured. As such, they are not any one particular type of cell. You see, as cell mature they grow into the type of cell they are. A brain cell, a skin cell, etc. But cells are not yet at this stage. As such, they may be able to repair or replace cells that are not healthy in the human body. Medical research on stem cells has been done for years, now.
There are Different Types
There are three different types of stem cells: embryonic, adult, and induced pluripotent stem cells. Each of these types of stem cells are harvested by different methods. For those who are pro stem cell research, this is very important. Embryonic stem cells come from a human fetus. However, the other two types do not. This means that there is not cost in human life if you believe that abortion is wrong and oppose stem cell research due to this. For this very reason, more stem cell research should be allowed.
We Can Deepen Out Understanding
Studying stem cells helps to increase our understanding of the human body. Researchers can actually learn more about the cells that compose each one of use. This sort of research can also help us to better understand how some diseases operate. By better understanding how these diseases work, we might be able to better combat them. At the very least, we may be able to lessen their symptoms and their effect. In some cases, we could possibly even find a cure for very devastating issues. Stem cells can also be used to test potential medications before they are even sold to the public. Such trials could prevent future complications with certain medicines. The potential here is truly too huge to ignore.
It Might Be the Next Big Thing in Medicine
Researchers, so far, have identified a lot of diseases that stem cell research holds potential for. Among them are:
Certain issues at birth;
Type I diabetes;
Injuries of the spinal cord;
Injuries to various organs;
Safer organ transplants in the future.
This could just be the tip of the iceberg. Who knows what other issues that stem cell research might be able to help with? We will never know, though, until more research is allowed, funded, and conducted. Currently, there is very little stem cell research being conducted because of misunderstanding among those not in the scientific or medical communities. More of the general population and those in government positions should be educated about what stem cells could do for the human race as a whole.
The Benefits Could Outweigh the Cost
If research on embryonic stem cells are done, the cells must be taken from a human embryo. Some might see this as a cost for the research that must be done. Indeed, for some, this cost is very high. However, there are ways of creating human embryos in labs through the process of artificial insemination. And, some argue, the cost that we pay to do research on embryonic stem cells could be repaid a hundred fold in the future. In the long run, any medical benefits that we could glean from this process could save millions of lives in the future. It could also prevent lots of pain, suffering, and even medical costs for some people. The human life could be lengthened, and some diseases may even be completely eradicated in the future. Imagine a world without any of the above listed diseases. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful place?
Some Call This Murder
One the other hand, some people feel that any and all embryonic research is murder. Why? Human life starts with a simple embryo in the womb after fertilization. To harvest embryonic stem cells, the embryo itself must be destroyed. If human life begins at fertilization (when a human zygote forms) then you are taking a life when you destroy an embryo. Taking a human life is also known as murder. Stem cell research into embryonic cells on a large scale would mean even more murder. In theory, any one of these destroyed human embryos could be the next Mozart or Einstein.
We Do Not Know If It Will Even Work
Even the top researchers admit that any sort of breakthrough on the stem cell research front is years away. What if all this research is for nothing? Sure, we have high hopes for stem cells, but it could be that they will not prevent, cure, or treat any diseases. They might do something, but it could be nothing like we would have hoped. If the research ends up showing us nothing, imagine how much time, money, and effort will go into finally coming to that conclusion. All that effort could have been spent researching other things. Examples include things like ending world hunger.
How Will this Knowledge Really Be Used?
Will all this stem cell research knowledge really go into curing diseases? Could it not as easily be used for something that is not so great? Time and time again, great human breakthroughs meant for good have been coopted for evil. Stem cell research might just be another example of this. The things that scientists claim to be the next medical breakthrough could actually be the next advancement in weapons technology. It could be used for human engineering, or worse. We may just be better off exploring other venues to look for cures to diseases.
People Will Play God
Working with stem cells presents plenty of moral and ethical conundrums. As of yet, we do not have much experience with such issues. What we do today might be seen as cruel in the future. Basically, scientists, women who donate embryos, men who donate sperm, lab techs, and others will all be playing God in this situation. They have way too much power over a potential human life at every step. As stem cell research develops, we may actually see this issue get worse, not better. We should leave nature to do what it was meant to do.
Which side you fall on in the stem cell research debate is clearly up to you. For more information, we recommend that you search online. Or head to your local library. There you will find lots of books, articles, and webpages that present both sides of the argument quite compellingly. You may also want to ask others you trust about their opinion. It can take some time to come to your own conclusion. However, taking your time to think about this issue can be very important in many ways. Knowing where you stand on this issue can influence how you vote, what political party you join, and more.