More than thirty years ago, in 1981, scientists were able to successfully extract embryonic stem cells from mice, effectively opening a door to new discoveries in scientific and medical fields. Stem cells are unspecialized cells meaning that they have no set function in the body. Scientists have also found ways to influence these cells into becoming tissues, organ-specific cells, and other specialized cells.
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In addition to this, they are also capable of replenishing themselves through cell devision. However, this research has since moved onto human testing, essentially creating some major moral issues. The biggest dilemma being: in order to obtain the embryonic stem cells, potential human life must be destroyed. However, the stem cells can alleviate the suffering of living people. In order to find a practical solution looking through a cultural lens will help see the beneficial and inimical effects on people within the U.S. Though research on these cells is still being conducted, these moral problems are hindering funding. Yet, it is important to find a solution because stem cells hold the potential to fix a plethora of health issues. While this experimentation creates difficulty in America’s culture, it is important to continue the research so the process can be perfected in order to help meet citizens’ medical needs.
One reason why this research is struggling is lack of experience and practice with these cells, meaning some embryos are not being used fully, and their lives are ending unnecessarily. In America this brings up many problems due to the many religions that believe in preserving life, and assert that life begins when conceived. However, one possible solution would be developing adult stem cells in order to have as much flexibility as embryonic stem cells. Dennis Hollinger, president as well as distinguished professor of Christian Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, argues that Healing is regarded as the ‘greatest good’ which will usher in the most happiness or pleasure for the greatest number of people. Though he thinks embryonic stem cells are still the way to go, he is not wrong about health bringing happiness. In an article by University of Notre Dame on alternative stem cell sources they suggest using Induced Pluripotent Stem cells. These are taken from somatic cells and adding small amount of specific genes into them, thus, iPS cells do not result in the death of any embryos or require the use of unfertilized eggs. This substitute could be a good a sturdy solution to using stem cells from embryos, and help the overall health of U.S. citizens.
Adding to the issue of ending life unnecessarily, another ethical or theological problem is that this can be seen as playing God. Peter Dabrock is a German theologian as well as a university teacher at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg,
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