A U.S. judge on Wednesday upheld the federal government’s rules that allow funding of human embryonic stem cell research, ruling for the Obama administration.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines on such research do not violate federal law and he dismissed a legal challenge to the funding.
Scientists hope to be able to use stem cells to find treatments for spinal cord injuries, cancer, diabetes and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
There is certainly a raging moral controversy over stem-cell research. The primary argument comes from conservatives who oppose the destruction of human embryos (Christianity also weighs in on this as immoral).
I am all for stem-cell research. It is the inevitable progress of science and medicine, and I believe that there is a way to navigate these murky waters in an acceptably moral way. But before you accuse me of baby-killing, let’s get some perspective.
From the NIH (National Institutes of Health):
Research on one kind of stem cell—human embryonic stem cells—has generated much interest and public debate.
Pluripotent stem cells (cells that can develop into many different cell types of the body) are isolated from human embryos that are a few days old.
While the conservatives are pushing the “stem-cell research kills babies” agenda, the reality of the matter is of course not anything like this. As the above quote stated, pluripotent stem cells are taken from embryos only a few days old, and at this state, a human embryo is only a few hundred cells, unable to feel pain or experience, and only 0.2 mm, which is smaller than a spec of dust. It is not some viable child that the “evil scientists” murder in the dark of night to harvest their cells.
If we are to weigh the moral implications of this research, do we not weigh the potential gains from living human beings more than a microscopic cluster of cells that would have remained frozen in some clinic somewhere indefinitely?
I think that the gains far outweigh the consequences, and I am happy that medicine can progress with this powerful tool to hopefully cure terrible diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
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