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Stem Cell - Essay Example

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Stem cell research, and its applications, has the potential to be the most important medical breakthrough in our lifetime. It may one day be used to treat a myriad of diseases, conditions, and disabilities including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, spinal cord injury, and rheumatoid arthritis (Stem Cell Basics)…
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Breaking the Stem Cell Logjam Stem cell research, and its applications, has the potential to be the most important medical breakthrough in our lifetime. It may one day be used to treat a myriad of diseases, conditions, and disabilities including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, spinal cord injury, and rheumatoid arthritis (Stem Cell Basics). There is almost no area of medicine that will go untouched by this revolutionary research. As a person who comes from a family that has been impacted by hereditary, late-onset Parkinson's, the possibility that my grandchildren may be freed from the fear of this disease gives our family great optimism. For millions of others, the time has come to overcome the unfounded religious and political obstacles that have log-jammed this river of hope and proceed with stem cell research and development. The application of stem cell research is an ethical endeavor that could result in the saving of millions of lives, untold misery, and offer hope to millions that suffer from disease and disability.
Stem cell research is science. It is no less science than in-vitro fertilization, organ transplants, and blood transfusions. Our scientific tradition compels us to explore new uses for science and craft ways to put it to work to alleviate suffering and premature death. Blocking science for political purposes is unconscionable and as Kinsley reminds us, "Imagine being paralyzed by a spinal cord injury in your teens, watching for decades as medical treatment progresses but not quite fast enough, and knowing that it could have been faster." This concern is also shared by an overwhelming number of Americans.
While most Americans favor moving ahead with stem cell research, those that oppose it most often cite religious objections as their reason (Americans Speak Out). Strict conservative Christians have blocked federal funding for increased research as they have mistakenly related it to the abortion issue. However, just as we do not allow scientists to dictate religion, we should also not allow a political party that is dominated by religion to make policy on scientific research.
Religious leaders rally the opposition by conjuring up visions of horrible experiments gone wrong and attempt to instill fear, such as Woodward when he states, "...[T]he church remembers how Nazi doctors experimented on Jewish prisoners [...] like the surplus human embryos...". Yet, these embryos have no form, no feeling, and no conception. They have never been in a woman's body and are simply biological tissue that can reward millions. Fears of a slippery slope into a future of farming babies to harvest their cells and eventually their organs is not realistic. It has not happened within our very successful organ transplant programs and it will not happen with stem cells.
Stem cell research is a science that has the potential to touch each and every one of us someday in the near future. Yet, while most people favor moving into the future in this important area, efforts to do so are blocked by political leaders dependent on the Christian Right for campaign donations and reelection. Their fears of a future where mad scientists perform heinous and unethical experiments on human life is unfounded. It's time to remove the stem cell logjam and open the river of hope.
Works Cited
Americans Speak Out on Stem Cell Research. Research America. Charlton Research Company, 2005. 23 Aug. 2006 .
Kinsley, Michael. "Reason, Faith, and Stem Cells." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1 Sept. 2000, Region ed., sec. A: 23+.
Stem Cell Basics. National Institute of Health. Bethesda, MD: NIH, 2005. 23 Aug. 2006 .
Woodward, Kenneth L. "A Question of Life or Death: Untangling the Knottiest of Ethical Dilemmas." Newsweek 9 July 2001: 31+. Read More
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