Stem Cells Controversy Controversial Abortion Pro Life Pro Choice

Stem Cells- A Moral Dilemma

The world we live in is an era of constant discovery. Science has made many groundbreaking discoveries capable of vastly contributing to the world around us, from splitting atoms to manufacturing vaccines for some of the deadliest diseases on Earth. But, along with these discoveries comes great controversy. The contrast between both religion and science has grown so prominent within today’s media that we fail to see the larger picture. Both religion and science strive to aid and contribute to their fellow man, but simply disagree on which moral path to take.

Many believe that stem cells are only capable of being obtained through embryonic dissection. This belief is incorrect and gravely misinformed. There are, in fact, numerous procedures for harvesting stem cells – some more effective than others. The first procedure to be performed involves the collection of adult stem cells. This non-evasive, humane collection of cells allows researchers to further their studies whilst avoiding any controversy concerning religious parties. Considering that religious organizations have little to oppose towards a rather routine procedure, scientific studies on adult stem cells have even gained the support and funding of religious figures: the Vatican (“CBC News – Health – Vatican Funds Adult Stem-cell Research). The issue amongst adult stem cell research remains, although morally sound, lacking in potential compared to alternative research. Because of this unfortunate revelation, the science community has focused its efforts towards more controversial studies.

Pertaining to the various forms of stem cells, embryonic stem cells remain the most controvertible; the collection process through which the blastocyst – a cluster of human cells during the early stages of conception – is destroyed. Heavily covered by the media, scientist and religious members have strongly debated the moral legitimacy of embryonic stem cells. Scientists proclaim the considerable amount of possibilities embryonic stem cells can provide. Along with the great deal of information we are now gaining, embryonic stem cells can be found in larger quantities and are far easier to obtain. The National Institute of Health, supporter of both studies admits, “Adult stem cells are often present only in minute quantities, are difficult to isolate and purify, and their numbers may decrease with age,” ( Stem Cells or Embryonic? Scientists Differ). To further complicate the matter, it has become evident that in order to further understand the effects and possibilities of adult stem cells, embryonic testing must continue. Professor Helen Blau of Stanford University states that embryonic research is crucial for a better understanding of adult stem cells ( Stem Cells or Embryonic? Scientists Differ). Considering that the process of harvesting embryonic stem cells involves the destruction of human life, the church condemns the studies as a detriment of human life. The church remains very vocal on the matter, believing that although embryonic stem cells provide a greater potential for good, in turn originates from an even greater evil.

Fortunately, a humane and groundbreaking process of harvesting stem cells has been discovered. These new forms of cells combine the medical potential of embryonic stem cells with the ethically sound elements of adult stem cells. This unprecedented scientific achievement involves the genetic mutation of adult stem cells in order to create a stem cell with the properties of embryonic cells. This type of cell is known as the induced pluripotent stem cell. Scientist believe that induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS for short, has the potential to replace and surpass the need for further embryonic testing. The Christian community welcomed the idea of vast medical possibilities through mock stem cells openly. The iPSs are far from perfect, however, due to a chemical reaction within the cell resulting in a much shorter lifespan. “There was a 1,000- to 5,000-fold difference between the iPS cells’ ability to keep growing and dividing and the true embryonic cells’ ability,” (Newsweek-Why Adult Cells Won’t End the Stem-Cell Wars) explains biologist Robert Lanza. Regardless, the main drawback of this new form of cell remains to be the adolescent stages of testing. Scientist’s inexperience with the cell leaves many questions unanswered and, subsequently, a foreign concept.

Before imposing my opinion on the subject of stem cell research and the procedures that follow, I will ensure to expel any fallacies appealing to emotion. This has become a major tactic of pro-life activists, who even this year has handed out miniature fetus key chains to the high school to which I reside. This high school only allows one point of view for their highly manipulative students, due to its Catholic administration. I find this strategy inappropriate, manipulative, and classless, and therefore shall not allow such rational to sway my judgment. I believe that although found immoral by the church, embryonic stem cell research is beneficial and should be permitted to further studies. I make this statement on the basis that I do not believe an embryo is at a stage of human life. The human body naturally expels reproductive cells regardless of sexual activity. The conception of a sperm cell with the egg expresses a symbolic event and nothing more. I believe that the point of human development occurs within the second trimester; specifically week twenty-three, of which the fetus gains consciousness. The ability to think independently is what makes us human, not the genetic assembly of DNA.  Regarding alternative methods, it is evident that although one day a method may surpass the benefits and potential of embryonic stem cells, it has yet to occur. Ironically, it is the further study of embryonic cells that could lead to its dissolution.

Both science and religion present valid arguments on the highly controversial subject of stem-cell research. The arguments made by the scientific and religious organizations pertaining to this subject are done so with respect and the development of humanity in mind. Although sides may be drawn and opinions are made, it is in the pursuit of a greater good. Through debate and controversy, society gains a ubiquitous perspective of pressing moral issues. Society must maintain this perspective and continue to analyze, debate, and reanalyze; this is the path to true enlightenment.  

Works Cited

Begley, Sharon. “Newsweek-Why Adult Cells Won’t End the Stem-Cell Wars.” Newsweek – National News, World News, Business, Health, Technology, Entertainment and More – – Newsweek. Newsweek, 11 Feb. 2010. Web. 04 June 2010. <>.

Cohen, Elizabeth. “ – Adult Stem Cells or Embryonic? Scientists Differ – August 10, 2001.” – Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News. CNN, 10 Aug. 2001. Web. 04 June 2010. <>.

News, Cbc. “CBC News – Health – Vatican Funds Adult Stem-cell Research.” Vatican funds adult stem-cell research. – Canadian News Sports Entertainment Kids Docs Radio TV. 29 Apr. 2010. Web. 04 June 2010. <>.