The Contreversy Surrounding Stem Cells

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What if I told you there existed a cure for diseases such as Cancer, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, and HIV and such a cure exists right now. Odds are, you would be in favor for such a remedy that could eradicate the ominous suffering of millions worldwide.

Scientists have seen such potential in embryonic stem cells. Stem cells have the incredible capacity to transform into virtually any cell in the human body thus carrying the possibility of curing a multitude of illness. By conducting studies on damaged stem cells with diseases, scientists can derive cures. That begs the question of why do such tragic diseases persist to exist? Research utilizing these cells requires the destruction of an embryo. Many argue that the annihilation of embryos is in violation of basic human rights on the basis that embryos qualify as forms of life and thus we are encouraging mass murder. This makes such research a point of ethical, scientific, religious and political controversy. Embryonic stem cells are the pinnacle of modern biotechnology and can result in extraordinary discoveries. However, this field has been under siege by various politicians and is lacking financial support. Critical research is being challenged rather than being aided. A monumental shift occurred when President Barack Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act as one of his last actions as President. Out of the $6. 3 billion designated to the National Institute of Health(NIH) for the next decade, $30million is allocated to regenerative medicine. This includes provisions intended to review of regenerative therapies, enabled by stem cell therapy research.

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Susan Solomon has benefitted from this Act seeing as she has founded the Nonprofit Organisation; New York Stem Cell Foundation Laboratory(NYSCF). She believes that “stem cell research is going to allow our children to look at major diseases the way we view polio today, which is a preventable disease”. Dr. Solomon strongly believes that stem cell research is the perfect avenue to pursue in order to resolve fatal medical conditions. She has been on the field looking for medical solutions for 25 years and made various discoveries. Solomon has also created a new way of analyzing diseases; human stem cell models. After studying motor neuron disease through a human model of stem cells, she was able to discover that motor neurons were dying in a different way as opposed to what was previously thought. Her research went on to compliment upon ALS disease researchers and the human model research with stem cells have rippled across the global community. However, before being in the field of medical biotechnology, Solomon was the CEO for a variety of law firms and even created her own. Such a significant dramatic cshift was heavily due to family factors. After her son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, she left her position as president of Sony Worldwide Network and worked as a health-care advocate. 12 years after her son was diagnosed, Solomon’s mother died from cancer and as a result, she sought to find a way in which the most advanced medical research could translate into more cures. Solomon founded NYSCF soon after and has been their CEO ever since.

Recently she has been campaigning to raise more financial support for NYSCF. Solomon demonstrates the textbook example of Altruism, putting her family in front of her booming career. She is determined to cure these atrocious diseases. Her altruistic behavior is seen through her diligent work in leading the 300 members of the NYSCF, the majority of whom have a Ph. D. in medicine. She has won awards of Stem Cell Action Leadership Award from the Genetics Policy Institute, New York State Women of Excellence and the Triumph Award from The Brooke Ellison Foundation. These certifications show the initiative she is making towards a healthier future. If her campaign is successful, the NIH will begin funding the NYSCF as a result of amendments in the 21st Century Cures Act. Recently the NIH and NYSCF have collaborated on the creation of cell models of undiagnosed diseases and hopefully, this is a start of a relationship that will result in fewer deaths worldwide. However, some peoples still remain strongly against the immense funding the government is distributing to the NIH. Most notably, President Bush has demonstrated his frustration with scientists pursuing stem cell research. In 2006 when Bush was in Office, he vetoed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act.

In response to his first presidential veto, he referred to embryos as human life, not acknowledging that embryos were only used a few days after being fertilized. Bush’s views are heavily defined by being the eldest in his family. With his father being a president and his grandfather being a senator, he was always spoon fed and well-off. However, he always was tasked with taking care of his younger siblings, according to his mother, and this instilled him the love for young children and kids. This strong love for little kids and the fact he isn’t able to have his own kids due to medical conditions is why he deems a 5-day old chunk of cells a form of life. Bush argues that there is no requirement for funding embryonic stem cell research seeing as, during his 2 presidential terms, he narrowed the avenue for embryonic research and that led to the beneficial alternative research into umbilical chords and bone marrow. Bush recognizes that the 2012 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to two scientists who found the alternative method of studying embryonic cells by developing mature cells into stem cells through cell specialization. President Bush demonstrates a conservative philosophy seeing as he However, as if to erase Bush’s efforts in the stem cell field, in Obama’s first 100 days he repealed the policy from Bush about limited funding on embryonic stem cell research and reversed the bill Bush vetoed. “As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. We have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research”. Though Obama claims to be religious, he is loathed by the pious for his bills on same-sex marriage and stem cell research. Obama didn’t grow up in a religious household and however practiced Christianity later in life. He refers to his spiritual awakening as being central to his identity and tied to every decision he makes.

Throughout his administration, Obama provided the field of stem cell research a platform to innovate and discover, up in till his last acts he provided funding for stem cell researchers. After graduating from Columbia University, Obama worked in Chicago as a community organizer in a church for three years before going on to Harvard Law. Yet these 3 years, he claims, were crucial to discover himself. He worked in the demoralized landscape of poor neighborhoods as a grass-roots organizer and this was around the same time as his spiritual awakening. “The best education I ever had, better than anything I got at Harvard Law School”. Obama has clearly imbued those years with even more of a crucial value, invoking it in the Cures Act with Christian-based views seen in sections where the bill refers to $1. 8bn is allocated to the Joe Biden Cancer Research Program. After Joe Biden’s, Vice President, son died from cancer, Obama vowed to help reduce the annual 8. 8 million deaths worldwide. This is an act similar to the value of Christianity of serving others. Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39) Aside from the views of the USA, in Vatican City, Pope Francis has even addressed this controversial issue. During Bush’s administration, Pope Francis supported Bush’s actions and believes that there lies no justification for the death of human embryos, not an even noble utility for science. To truly grasp the ethical magnanimity of such research, we have analyzed 4 significant views from well-educated and renowned people, yet still can’t come to a decision on how to tackle this controversy.

Though the 21st Century Cures Act has already been passed, we saw how each stakeholder in their own respect was able to make justified actions to change the status quo. The Cures Act is only the first step for scientists, seeing as the current President’s views on medical healthcare are blurred. We do not know what the future holds in store for stem cell researchers, however, do know that Obama has provided them with a platform to I personally believe the possible potential results that embryonic stem cell research could result in heavily outweighs the minor embryos that are taken away from a petri dish. I think that my values are derived from the experiences I have had when I One thing people who are pro-life and against stem cell research miss out is that the study is only conducted on aborted fetuses, and thus these fetuses are already dead. They have lost the potential of being human and this is why I believe this ethically justify researcher’s actions. If a clump of cells that would be dead anyway could lead to a healthier future, why not contribute towards it?

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