The undifferentiated cells of a human embryo often referred to as “stem cells” hold limitless promise for medical research. Theoretically, such cells could cure diseases like leukemia, treat diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, and repair the nerve systems of quadriplegics patients. While stem cell research is not equal to abortion, abortion opponents, however, are attempting to ban stem cell research on the grounds that it is unethical. Liberals like president Barack Obama believes that stem cell research should be perused to get remedies to diseases no one has ever been able to treat in the past. There is no reason to object to research conducted on a being that has no brain, consciousness, preferences of any kind, or capacity for suffering.
When a human embryo consists of not more than 64 cells, its cells are, like a young dog, able to learn new tricks and can assume any body function they are taught to. If injected into a diseased kidney, they take on many of the properties of ordinary kidney cells, and may help the kidney to perform its normal function to patients who have been undergoing renal dialysis. This seems to hold for any organ, even any kind of cell. This is exciting medical researchers, because it means that, at least in theory, the cells from an early embryo could cure cancers like leukemia, enable people with diabetes to manufacture insulin, treat Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and repair the neural diseases like LouGherig’s disease and repair nerves in quadriplegics.
Opponents of stem sell research are often infertile and internalize the pain of wanting to have a baby but cant have one in to scientific breakthroughs. Other opponents have never had diseases that stem cell research could cure or have never lost a dear young mother to a disease like Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or a young son to Leukemia.
But medical researchers aren’t the only ones excited by the prospects of using embryo stem cells. In the United States, 70 members of Congress have opposed a proposal from the National Institutes of Health, the major government funding body for medical research, to sponsor work using human stem cells. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops has been lobbying the Congress to prevent the use of federal money for the research, and when a coalition called Patients’ Cure began to campaign for embryo stem cell research, some sponsors of American Cancer Society threatened to withdraw their support. The American Cancer Society withdrew its support from Patients’ Cure to retain its sponsors.
64 Cells Cannot Suffer
Research on embryos should be prohibited if there is any possibility that the embryo is capable of suffering—but no one would argue that an embryo consisting of 64 cells could be capable of suffering. We are talking about a few dozen cells here, not any differentiated cells. A developed brain and nervous system is a pre-requisite for a capacity to suffer. Apart from belief in immortal souls, it is sheer species-bias that makes scientific advancement that would benefit us all impossible. Give stem cell research a chance and change the way the world suffers today.
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