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Stem Cell Legislation - Research Paper Example

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Stem Cell Research Legislation (Add (Add (Add Date) Stem Cell Research Legislation Human embryonic stem cells are rightly called ‘master cells’. This is so because they possess the ability to get developed into any cell in the human body…
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Download file to see previous pages It is hoped that such cells can be developed to replace dysfunctional cells in conditions like spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and various other medical conditions. A look into the American stem cell research legislations proves that the country needs to make such laws regarding patents and intellectual rights to ensure that the government and the federally funded researchers have access to stem cells. In addition, there should be clear government guidelines regarding the agreement between patent holders and researchers. The advancements in research were not free from ethical issues and legal disputes. As reported by National Bioethics Advisory Commission (1999) this is mainly so because the sources for stem cells are one week old embryos called blastocysts which are usually created through in vitro fertilization to treat infertility, five to nine week old embryos of fetuses obtained through elective abortion, embryos created through in vitro fertilization for research purposes, embryos created through cloning or somatic cell nuclear transfer, and finally, adult tissues like umbilical cord blood and marrow. The controversy almost entirely surrounds taking stem cells from human embryos and fetuses because the process destroys them. Admittedly, the American administration has always been open to the ethical concerns surrounding embryo research. Throughout history, the government did not provide any funding to support researches on stem cells from human embryos. So, the federal law rightly prohibited the HHS from funding any such research. In the year 1994, President Bill Clinton issued an executive directive to the NIH that it should not allocate funds to develop human embryos for research purposes. Two years later, in 1996, there was a legislative ban on NIH’s spending on stem cell research from human embryos. Thereafter, every year, the government passed such a ban. As Wertz (2002, p. 674-678) points out, according to the ban, federal funds could not be used for the development of human embryos for research purposes where human embryo is destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death. However, as the Wisconsin scientists successfully grew embryonic stem cells into specialized cells, there arose increased demand from NIH to again look into the governmental ban on stem cell research from embryos and fetus. The opinion of the HHS’ General Counsel was that the existing law that only prohibited the use of HHS funds for human embryo research would not ban research on stem cells because stem cells are not within the legal definition of human embryo. According to the definition provided, embryo is an organism that is capable of developing into a full human being when implanted in the uterus. It is claimed that the pluripotent stem cells are not able to grow into a human being. Thus, the opinion reached was that HHS could fund such stem cell researches that manage to get the stem cells from embryos using private means. The restriction only applied to those researches that want to derive stem cells from embryos using federal funds. Though there was congressional opposition, NIH made it clear that it would support stem cell research once it managed to issue guidelines and to establish an oversight committee. Thus, the NIH guidelines appeared in August 2000 that made it clear that researches using pluripotent stem cells from human embryos can be conducted using NIH funds. However the condition was that the stem ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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