Essay:Stem Cells

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This essay is an original work by Seekcommon. Please comment only on the talk page.

I noticed on the main page the news item about adult stem cells and the byline indicating how (in the opinion of the author(s)) the "abortion" industry "continues to insist on unsuccessful embryonic stem cell research in the United States" and it continues to say how "In the case of a recently successful adult stem cell project for diabetics, "the research was done in Brazil because U.S. doctors were not interested in the approach." Nonsense. I am not a researcher in that area, but know enough to understand that scientists go where the data leads them. If adult stem cells will work like other stem cells, people will try them and such efforts continue. It is utter nonsense to say that doctors in the US are not interested in that approach - perhaps they know a few things the author(s) do not know.

No, embryonic stem cell research is not wrong in any sense. It is one of the stupidest issues there is. I can end the debate in two sentences. Listen hard and listen well (or read, rather...). A 4-day-old embryo consisting of liquid in a petri dish is NOT a person. Period. It is, as I just said, nothing more than liquid in a petri dish. No limbs, no organs, no blood, no tiny little fetus face, none of those images you may have in your mind. Those are all characteristics of a FETUS. It can certainly be argued that fetuses at different stages in development are human life given that they resemble more and more a miniature form of an infant. But the embryos used in stem cell research are just a cup of liquid! That's it! They only have 50-100 cells! It's absolutely absurd! The idea that the value of that liquid is greater than the suffering of millions of conscious, living people who may be miserable stuck in a wheel chair for their entire lives or have incurable diseases is absolutely asinine. And before somebody gives me some bullsh*t about how embryonic stem cell research can't cure those things, don't even go there. That is a petty justification for your views. It won't produce an immediate cure, but it is a definite possibiliy in the next decade or so. Don't let the Christian Right fool you into thinking this is an issue about "life". It is an issue about - no, it's not even an issues at all. There is no issue. --TheLoneLiberal 10:14, 20 May 2008 (EDT)

It amazes me how much the media sings the tune for embryonic stem cells when zero has been accomplished. Probably has to do more with the Bush bashers (his veto), than any logical reason for promoting a big big maybe. John Kerry claims embryonic stem cells saved a little old mouse. Is that not the most pathetic augument ever--jp 16:00, 17 April 2007 (EDT)?

^ I don't care what the media or John Kerry think. I care about whether or not stem cells have value. Read my post and you will see, as you say, "logical" reasons for stem cell research. User:Cthx

Research in medicine is slow and the medications and treatments we enjoy today are the result of years of painstaking efforts by people all around the world. When we examine history, we realize that there was horror at scientists/medical doctors interested in dissection of cadavers, experimentation on animals - certain religious groups do not believe anything other than their faith can cure all illl - and oppose all modern medical interventions. There is slow progress being made on understanding how stem cells (adult and embryonic) can be programmed/taught to develop along particular lines for transplantation/therapy/ and yes, initial progress is usually demonstrated in small animals, particular mice. So, NO, it is NOT a pathetic argument whatsoever, it indicates we are making progress. User:Seekcommon
I heard PETA is one of the biggest organizations against animal testing.Jaques 19:42, 18 April 2007 (EDT):::: Yes, I have heard report of their atrocities also. To many who belong to PETA/ human life is far less (or not important) than any/all animal life - they would take human life to protect animals, what I understand. Despicable for sure. User:Seekcommon

Stem cell research is a vital part of a growing scientific and medic commune that hopes to eraticate such diseases as Alzheimers. The unfortunate thing is that FETAL stem cells are incapable of providing such results. However, ADULT stem cells have already cured 60 some odd diseases and cured parallysis in several test subjects. The thought of farming children like livestock is barbaric. To really just grow children for spare parts is inhumane. Besides, trials involving FETAL stem cells have had side effects similar to being jolted with lightning include spaztic convulsions that does not dissipate. Its harmful to both the humans who were involved in clinical trials and the humans they were harvested from. My response does not come as a Republican, or a Bushie, but as a concerned citizen of Earth who feels more can be accomplished without sacrificing the next generation. P.S. Aztecs sacrificed children and we called them barbaric. Dairlyxed13

It IS barbaric to "grow" children for spare parts, that is not the intention, as fas as I know, of the people who pursue embryonic stem cell research. It is not true that ALL stem cells are equivalent, from what I understand. While attempts are being made to reprogram stem cells from any source, the current state of the art/science seems to be that only embryonic stem cells seem capable of differentiating into any tissue/organs. Again, from what I understand, the clamor is to be able to use cells which were going to be destroyed - or use cells that were discarded naturally - e.g. when there is a miscarriage ... again, my limited understanding. Nature/God is far more "cruel" if you can say that when it comes to terminating pregnancies - it happens at far higher rates than deliberately induced abortions, again, what I gather. Humans are always pushing the envelope - we are always seeking means to improve and yes, protect lives - starting with drugs to kill bacteria/viruses, to deliberate surgical interventions to transplantation and so on. We should ALWAYS be careful in what we pursue, yet, where the lines we must NOT cross are not clear to all and hence the controversies. I do not for a minute believe that the right to choose people are simply waiting to kill babies/unborns - OR that the right to life people are not sympathetic to the victim of rape or incest or unwanted pregnancies. I just wish that each side would understand what it is that they seek and work towards the common goal of reducing living, human suffering and not add to the sufferings. User:Seekcommon

I have nothing against stem cell research... non-embryonic stem cell research, that is. Stem cell research using non-embryonic sources (umbilical cord blood, placenta, bone marrow, and adult skin, blood, brain, and body fat cells) is ethically fine. No human lives are destroyed. If stem cells can be obtained from living humans without harming them, then why are embryonic stem cells so sought after. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can become almost any type of cell. Adult stem cells are multipotent, meaning they can only make cells from a closely related group of cells. For example, one type of stem cell could make RBC's, WBC's, platelets, etc., but not nervous tissue. For this reason, embryonic stem cells are more desirable. However, we must face the ethical realities. Is it right to take one person's life to save another's? Opinion changes from person to person, but I believe life begins at the moment of conception. There is no reason why that baby should be used for stem cell research. It is not ethically justifiable. However, I know that this will come up - what about aborted babies? Should we "waste" the babies that mothers do not want, or should we "harvest" their stem cells to help other people? My opinion - one wrong does not justify another. Just because a baby was aborted doesn't make it right to use it for stem cell research. Additionally, ponder this... if the government were to allow aborted babies to be used for stem cell research, the mothers might get paid... if they were paid, people would have many babies with someone on purpose so that they can destroy the life of an individual to make money. I would like to see everyon elses reaction to this, as well as the question, "Should we "waste" the babies that mothers do not want, or should we "harvest" their stem cells to help other people?" So quite simply, it is never morally or ethically justifiable to kill one human being to benefit another human being. Sooo... next topic, stem cells that have been discarded. Illegal. Why? Well, allowing discarded stem cells, as in stem cells from an aborted fetus, seems to condone abortion, because the cells are being used for a "good purpose." Basically, one wrong does not justify another. Just because the baby was already aborted does not make using the embryos for their stem cells fine. Because then you might have people willingly abort their babies knowing they will be used for science. Or even more disturbing - a mother "growing" babies that she aborts to use stem cells to heal the sickness of herself or others. Not something we want to support. Thus, by making using even discarded embryonic stem cells illegal, a line is being drawn. Under no circumstances are embryonic stem cells fine. Because when you make exceptions, more and more get made until possibly the thing itself becomes legal. I had thought the same thing you do once, but then realized that its morally wrong. One wrong does not justify another. About the jail time: if it was just a fine, rich doctors could easily continue to use the ESC's without getting hurt too bad. People who kill the life of a human to help another are criminal. Another example: euthanasiasts - they take the life of a patient to ease their suffering and make the lives of those suffering with them emotionally better. WHY IS MURDER JUSTIFIABLE FOR SCIENCE?? IT SHOULD NOT BE SO!

Pro-life argument for the use of embryonic stem cells

It is significant to note that, for the purposes of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), far more embryos are created than could ever possibly be used. Yes, life does begin at conception; therefore a fertilized egg does constitute a human life. However, a life spent frozen in a freezer is simply a waste. Personally, I would rather contribute to humanity--and the study of human disease--and thereby save lives, than live as a ball of cells in a freezer.

It is the imperative, provided by God, that all people honor the sanctity of life. And, while an embryo cannot consent to being used in research, there seems to me to be no higher calling than a life spent serving the good of humanity. Even if that life is simply spent as cells in a petri dish.

Allowing the creation of embryonic stem cell lines from leftover embryos--which are, I must stress, living people--gives them a chance to live a life in the service of the sick, rather than simply being wasted when they get freezer burn (even frozen embryos do go bad after some time) or are otherwise discarded.

Discarding embryos is murder. Without a womb to allow them to develop a body, allowing them to grow and be used in research is the nearest we can come to giving them a life.

- User:JCasto

your argument obviously brings about the topic of what is defined as being human. Personally, a small clump of cells that has a large chance of not developing properly, is not what I view as a life. Besides what about embryos that are stored by couples who have successfully undergone invitro fertilization? Those embryos will never be used and they will probably be thrown away. Why not use those embryos for stem-cell research? JCasto, are you willing to save the "life" of an embryo at the cost of prolonging of the suffering of millions of people? - User:comatose raccoon
"Personally, a small clump of cells that has a large chance of not developing properly, is not what I view as a life" How can you say something like that? To me that is sicker than any story of the Holocaust or the Gulags. A fertilized egg under normal conditions becomes more cells, and even more cells. It is simple science. What do you think you are? You are a group of cells with just a few more years progress. Just because you may die in a car crash tommorow doesn't mean I'll shoot you now and harvest your body parts for someone in need of a heart or a lung. How do you justify that your life is more important than someone elses? God created all human beings with worth and dignity from the moment of conception. Also just because, "Those embryos will never be used and they will probably be thrown away" doesn't make anything right. Have you never heard that two wrongs don't make a right? These are HUMAN BEINGS that we are talking about. It is not our right or privelage to make the decision of life or death for them. Isn't that what a murderer is, someone who decides that another human is not deserving of life? --CRD 21:53, 11 July 2007 (EDT)
But, CRD, all of your arguments could just as easily be applied to organ donation. The possibility of harvesting organs could lead to a decision not to continue life support. There have been cases where people were killed for their organs. Should we thus conclude that organ donation leads to evil and should be prohibited?
--BenP 09:59, 4 May 2008 (EDT)

Stem cell research is bad. Embryos are living beings.--Edtropolis 16:04, 22 June 2007 (EDT)

I believe that abortion is wrong, as it is the taking of a human life. However, using discarded embryos and aborted fetuses for stem cell research is not the same as condoning abortion. If the embryo or fetus is no longer alive, harvesting its stem cells is extremely similar to using the organs of a deceased person to save a living one, or using a cadaver for scientific research. --User:ac09

Are embryos definitely living things? I think it depends on where you define life begins e.g. conception or after-birth.

Let me use the environment as an analogy. We're all agreed that both humans and trees are living things. Humans come from embryos just as much as tree originate from seeds. How many of you would classify a seed as the same sort of living thing that an embryo is?

Seeds are allowed to be experimented on so why not embryos? Aren't trees the same "perfect work of God" that humans are? -- User:jamieallen

YES for stem cells. Allow me to explain:

  • You are a killer. By scratching your head you are killing bacteria on your scalp. By eating, you are killing animals (or in the case of the vegetarian, plants). By walking on grass you are committing genocide due to the bugs that you squash. And you are shameless about it. Jesus condones killing. His father was a carpenter (tree-killer), his friends were fishermen, and the bread he ate during his Last Supper contains the grains of thousands of different wheat plants slaughtered en masse to make bread. Therefore, life does not necessarily need to be morally protected. Keep in mind that the word necessarily is important. After reading this, it would still seem that killing stem cells is wrong, due to them being human life.
  • Why is human life so valuable? Generally, it is widely considered that human life is valuable. Why? One could say that human life is valuable because it is human. That, however, is an arbitrary distinction. The value of an object is derived, not from its name, but from its properties. Therefore, human life is valuable because of the properties that humans have. Here are a few:
The ability to feel pain
The ability to think
The ability to have emotions

Embryos, however, have none of the above properties. Therefore, they do not have the value of a human.

  • But what about God? God assigning embryos as valuable because they are so doesn't prevent this from still being arbitrary. Besides, how do you know that God does value them? After all, it'd be hard to find out unless you've had a chat with him. And even then, I doubt that God would sanction stem cells due to the arguments posted above.
  • But don't embryos have potential? Why stop at embryos? Why even stop at conception? By that same logic, having a period or failing to impregnate everyone near you would be tantamount to murder. Potential for value is everywhere, but that doesn't mean that the potential has the value of the target.
  • But it's just not right?! If you have any other objections, please post.
  • Now, we can logically conclude that spending low-value embryos for high-value scientific knowledge (even if that knowledge isn't a cure to a disease, it still has more value than the non-sensing, non-sapient embryo: e.g. greater knowledge of human development) is not only morally right, but morally imperative. To research stem cells.

Q.E.D. User:Cthx

"By that same logic, having a period or failing to impregnate everyone near you would be tantamount to murder" There is no potential that a woman will get pregnant walking down the street. A human being is concieved through sexual interaction (Bio 101) and becomes and embryo and thus an infant and then an adolescant, etc. That is the normal path of human development. There is no "potential" involved. Uninhibited by natural or artificial means that embreyo becomes an adult like you and me. Just because it is not at that stage yet does not mean it does not have the same value as a human life. In a casualty report, do you count the children as half a person because they are not yet quite as developed as you are? That is the same ignorant line of thought that has been fought for years under the cover of racism. People were saying that because you do not look like me, I have the right to kill and test on you like a lab rat (yes, test, think Hitler). There is no "low-value embryo", you were at one point an embreyo, if someone had decided for you that your life was not important (because I can throw you in a freezer and use you for science) then you would not even be here today breathing with a set of lungs or thinking with that brain that came from those first egg and sperm. If you are a God fearing man (I make no assumption), do you believe that you are not given the grace of God and the right to Heaven until you are fully capable of grasping and believing your faith? If so, half the world would be out of luck! Our God is a loving and unconditional God and he loves us from the moment of conception, where from that point he will guide our lives in the direction he intends it to go. Either through science or religion (I believe them to be one in the same because God created it all) an embreyo MUST be considered to be a human being, otherwise you are making the grave mistake of denying the life of another human being, which is known as murder.--CRD 23:11, 18 July 2007 (EDT)

Fairly recently it was discovered that stem cells could be obtained from umbilical cords, pleasing both sides of this debate, I would assume. Does anyone object to this? User:HKK

No, I want to deliberately kill babies. Seriously? If umbilical cord cells are easiest to obtain/highest quality, then YES I support umbilical cord cells over embryonic. If, however, they are of inferior quality (i.e. can't be made to specialize) or are too hard to get (i.e. they're needles in haystacks), then embryonic cells are better. User:Cthx

From what I've gatherd stem cells from cord blood are still a new idea but they show enormous potential. Scientists have also found a way to extract stem cells from embryos without destroying the embryo. I also support research of embryonic stem cells (especially when there are so many to be gained through things like invitro fertilization that would have otherwise been disposed of), however in light of recent scienific breakthroughs this debate is becoming much less necessary, as there are now multiple ways to satisfy both sides.--HKK

Great! User:Cthx

Rational Use

I'm not so keen on creating an embryo specifically for the purposes of destroying it in order to harvest the stem cells. It just seems to be in poor taste, to be honest. I see nothing wrong, however, with parents donating unused embryos for research, or with fertility clinics donating abandoned embryos.

Many embryos have been "abandoned" by their parents. That is to say, the treatment the embryos were created for succeeded in producing a pregnancy. Fertility treatments usually require the production of several embryos, only some of which will be implanted (they sometimes keep a few left over in case they need to try a second time). When embryos are left over, the parents have 4 options: discard them, donate them to other couples, pay several hundred dollars per year to keep them in storage, or donate them for medical research. However, often the parents will start by paying for storage and then disappear; the payments stop and the embryos are abandoned. This accounts for approximately 10% of the embryos currently in storage.

Most fertility clinics, and their owners, are uncertain about the ethical and legal ambiguities involved with abandoned embryo retention/destruction, so they will take on the burden of financing the continued storage themselves.

Consider these points:

  • 1) Whenever an in vitro fertilization procedure takes place, several embryos are created, only one (or two or mmmaybe three) of which will ever produce a fetus. So, any time these treatments take place, several embryos are created for the purpose of eventually being destroyed. There's no way around this.
  • 2) No one in this thread, that I have seen at least, has argued that the in vitro fertilization procedure itself is unethical, therefore there is clearly some level of acceptance of the fact that embryos will be created for the purpose of being destroyed. (Now, if you want to argue that IVF itself is an unethical procedure, that's another story.)
  • 3) An embryo that is destroyed has served no useful function. It has not produced a fetus, it has not furthered the cause of humanity; it was essentially created and destroyed in vain.
  • 4) Plenty of embryos are already being donated for the purposes of stem cell research. It has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen. (The one restriction is that Federal Government funds can not be used to support it.)
  • 5) An embryo donated for research has served some purpose. Its existence was not in vain and it stands the chance of possibly contributing to major medical breakthroughs.

Those points being made, I fail to see why abandoned embryos should not be donated. Their parents gave up their right to decide the embryos' fates and essentially left it up to the clinics. I would argue that the fate of an abandoned embryo falls to the owner(s) of the clinic they are stored at, and any of the 4 options I listed above (destruction, adoption, continued storage, research donation) should be available to the clinic the same as it would be to the parents.--Porthos 10:35, 14 August 2007 (EDT)

As stated by Porthos, the embryos that would just got to waste otherwise are better put to stem cell research, as it means they have a use. Stem cells have incredible potential, the idea that we could replace body parts is incredible. We are learing to replicate the miricles of jesus, just as his disciples did after he returned to heaven, in what way is this contrary to the Bible? Didn't jesus want us to be his disciples? Jesusfollower 22:16, 13 April 2008 (EDT)

Stems cells are both difficult to work with and to understand. It may surprise some of you, but established embryonic stem cell lines have been around since the late seventies. The line I do some work with, HEK-293 cells, was established from a kidney from an aborted fetus in 1978, in the Netherlands. It's gruesome to think about, but HEK cells (HEK stands for human embryonic kidney cells) are used throughout neurobiology and electrophysiology for experimentation. The problem with stem cells is keeping them as stem cells - they like to change, depending on their environment. They also have a high probability of becoming cancerous outside of the body (i.e. in tissue culture), due to over expression of telomerase. We don't know much about what makes a stem cell differentiate, that is why so many of the original stem cell lines established in the US are useless now - they became contaminated, or differentiated. How we get more stem cells is a difficult question - arguably much of the research that could/would use human stem cells could use those of chimpanzees, as they are so genetically similar to us. Personally I think anything that would be thrown out otherwise (medical waste, cord blood, unused IVF embryos) should be used to establish more stem cell lines, as cracking the stem cell differentiation puzzle will hopefully solve more lives than it could ever harm. AWHall 16:09, 20 May 2008 (EDT)

Embryonic-No, Stem Cells-Yes

A a religious person, I oppose abortion and the murder of unborn babies. However, there is no doubt that stem cells are very important. This article here lists many successful uses of non-embryonic stem-cells. These are from bone marrow or embilical chords after birth. They kill no one and work as effectiveley as embryonic stem cells.

The article: [1]

A basic issue of Conservation

Embryonic stem cells become medical waste though any number of procedures (abortion, miscarriage, fertility clinic discards, death during gestation, etc.) Therefore, to discard them is quite simply wasteful with a material that has great potential for no good reason. If I might bend this a bit further right, one could easily make the argument that many of these fetuses and blastocysts become medical waste through circumstance that your Christian god has allowed, or even directed, to occur. Might it be possible that he/she/it intends their use for medical research?

From the medical side of things, the potential of embryonic stem cells has yet to be realized (with all deference with hose who decry it) because only since the Obama administration's reversal of the ban has Federal funding been available for their use in research. What is acknowledged by the NIH is that embryonic stem cells have potentials that adult stem cells cannot possible have and to fail to explore these potentials is, quite simply, choosing ignorance for no good reason.

[2] NIH's Stem Cell Basics page

by leftofcenter

Embryonic stem cells are politically motivated and thus, not surprisingly, have caused more harm than good. One victim was a boy in Israel who, after receiving an embryonic stem cell implant, suffered from a harmful tumor that grew from it.
Use of adult stem cells has been impeded by the government more than use of embryonic stem cells. Liberals and pro-abortion types run the government, so the excuses for lack of benefit by the pro-abortion types don't hold water.--Andy Schlafly 09:16, 24 October 2009 (EDT)