The Case for Stem Cell Research

On Thursday, Sept. 9, a U.S. court of appeals overturned a federal judge’s ban on government funding of embryonic stem cell research at the National Institutes of Health.

Embryonic stem cells could be used to cure Parkinson’s disease, injuries to the spinal cord, and other genetic defects. However, research involves the destroying the embryo (fertilized egg), which would develop into a fetus in about eight weeks and be born in nine months if it were implanted into a woman’s uterus, making this funding controversial.

According to Michael Kinsley of Time Magazine, fertility clinics destroy or freeze more embryos than will ever be used in stem cell research, so the controversy is groundless. While adult stem cells have been proposed as an alternative to embryonic stem cells, they are much harder to isolate, divide more slowly, are less plastic, are prone to DNA abnormalities, and have not been shown to treat heart damage in mice.

When a woman takes the “morning after” pill after sex, she hopes to destroy any fertilized egg in her Fallopian tubes before it implants in the uterine wall, which may take over 24 hours. This destruction of potential human life is deliberate and purposeless, yet perfectly legal and uncontroversial. At least stem cell research tries to benefit humanity instead of merely reducing our numbers.

Bloomberg: Embryonic Stem Cell Funds Resume by U.S. After Ruling
Time: The False Controversy of Stem Cells

This is an essay I wrote for my college-credit course Basic Anatomy & Physiology for Health Careers (BSC1080).