Stem cell research is a topic that has prompted much debate throughout the US in the last decade or so. In particular, it is the use of embryonic cells that has created the most historical discussion, with its opposition claiming that this practice is in direct disregard to legislation which prohibits the creation or the destruction of embryos for the purposes of research. The Bush administration of the US moved to curtail public investment into embryonic stem cell research, forcing private investors to contribute in reproducing the requisite cells.
The current government and its leader Barack Obama is in favor of the research however, and imposed rules in 2009 that allowed these privately funded cells to be used and tested in a controlled and well managed working environment. Subsequently, the Federal court last week gave Mr Obama’s administration the go ahead to continue their funding of embryonic stem cell research, lifting a previous injunction due to the ambiguity of the existing legislation on public spending in the US.
A Matter of Individual OpinionIt is thought that those who oppose embryonic stem cell research may well take their appeal to the supreme court, so the matter is likely to rage for the foreseeable future and beyond. It is a matter of individual opinion, with the previous administration of the US opposed to its practice and the more liberal government of Barack Obama in support of both the research and their role in funding and facilitating it.
It supporters claim that the application of both embryonic stem cell research and its adult equivalent (which is entirely permissible under law and legislation) has shown immense promise as a potential solution to afflictions such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and even specific types of cancer. It is ironically the application of embryonic cells that could most benefit society however, as they are more malleable than adult cells and have the potential to develop in to many different cells within the human body.
The potential benefits of stem cell research are not widely disputed, which gives an indication to why the use of adult cells is not opposed by law or legislation. In is the moral implications which create opposition with regards to the use of embryonic cells for the purposes of research, and in particular the act of either creating or destroying a living entity in the course of scientific progress.
The Creation and Destruction of Living Entities
One of the main moral obligations is the creation and manipulation of human life for the purpose of seeking out knowledge and progress, and in particular where this might lead with regards to the research techniques employed in future generations. Those who oppose stem cell research hold concerns as to the power that science will soon be able to wield over nature, and whether natural selection will be forcibly overwhelmed leaving society prone to over population and poor living conditions.
While this is an understandable concern, it is part of an overall decision that must be taken with regards to scientific and medical research. Either it must be funded and managed to the best of a particular governments ability, or it should be marginalized with a view to enforcing the significance of natural selection as a mode of population control. To attempt to facilitate both would ultimately achieve little, and neither create advancement for treatments or adequately regulate the growing citizenship within the US.
Taking Advantage of Scientific Advancements
It is the duty of a government to protect their citizens, from both harmful social elements and both disease and hardship. While this must also be balanced with protecting the interests of future generations, it could be argued that not maximizing the potential of scientific advancement and medical research is an act of negligence towards the society of today. With that ethos in mind, embryonic stem cell research is not the destruction of life for gain, but more a reasonable application of opportunity and knowledge.