The development of human embryos is largely attributed to the formation and development of stem cells. This is due to the fact that stem cells usually transform into several organs and tissues as the embryo develops into a fetus. Therefore, stem cells are the foundation or source for all internal and external human organs and tissues. Actually, many researchers believe that these stem cells from the embryo can develop into any organs which are necessary for human transplantation. It's also suggested that the use of embryonic stem cells to develop specific cell types by scientists can be utilized to treat certain diseases in the future. Embryonic stem cell research is considered as a means of developing treatment for people suffering from heart, spinal cord and brain diseases and injuries. On the contrary, this research is also viewed as a means of destroying innocent lives through the destruction of human embryos (Niharikas, 2010).
Embryonic Stem Cell Research:
While embryonic stem cell research has been a major point of debate that involves conservatives and liberals, most of what is promoted through the media is essentially an oversimplification of issues. This is because most of these news articles and agencies have never differentiated the type of stem cell research that is being promoted. There are two major classifications of stem cell which are pluripotent and multipotent. While the pluripotent stem cells are able to form almost all the kinds of tissues in human beings, the multipotent stem cells only form a restricted number of tissue types because they are partially distinguished (Deem, 2009). Pluripotent stem cells are found in a specific stage or blastocyst in human embryos while multipotent stem cells are found in several places including fetus, umbilical cord blood and several adult tissues.
While the history of stem cell research can be traced back to early 1960's, the controversy surrounding it developed recently. During this period, the basic source of human stem cells was the adult bone marrow with the early transplants in order to treat diseases that are associated with the immune system. This stem cell research in the early periods was extremely successful resulting in the treatment of various diseases. However, this research soon became problematic because of the fact that finding a compatible donor for the specific tissue type of the patient was difficult. In the recent years, scientists have discovered that producing embryonic stem cell from patients lessens the possibility of tissue rejection and avoids moral and costs problems linked with cloning embryos. While the reality of science suggests otherwise, stem cells have been used as a means of treating various diseases (Deem, 2009). Consequently, the conflicting proposals between popular press and scientists in addition to other factors have resulted in various approaches by liberals and conservatives.
Approach Taken By Liberals:
The current debate on stem cell research has resulted in various approaches taken by liberals, conservatives and the American public. However, the approaches taken by the American public are either in support of the liberals or conservatives approach with only a minimal percentage of the population taking their own stand. Generally, liberals are in support of the use of embryonic stem cells for research purposes in order to help scientists to find treatments for various diseases. In their proposal, liberals argue that an embryo is not a human and the embryo used in this research i.e. blastocyst contains no human features ("Conservative vs. Liberal Beliefs," 2010). Therefore, since the embryo used for embryonic stem cell research has no human features and is not a human, experimenting on them is not murder. In support of this embryonic stem cell research, liberals are asking the government to fund the research.
In their approach, liberals argue that embryonic stem cells have the possibility of curing chronic and degenerative diseases that current medicine has been unable to treat effectively. Such arguments are supported by the fact that embryonic stem cells have been effective in the cure of heart damage in mice. These people also refer to the results of many analyses conducted by scientists that embryonic stem cells can treat several medical problems like spinal cord injuries and brain injuries.
Due to this approach, several states in America such as California and Florida are reviewing and restricting the current laws in order to favor embryonic stem cell research. Furthermore, liberals are in opposition to the conservatives' view pertaining to the ethical issue of using embryos (Niharikas, 2010). To counter the conservatives' views, liberals argue that a huge number of embryos are usually damaged in-vitro fertilization clinics. In these clinics, the huge numbers of embryos are destroyed during the processes of fertilization since they are without any use. Therefore, the same yardstick should be used to conduct embryonic stem cell research in order to save the lives of many people who are suffering from diseases that can be treated by the results of this research. Together with pro-groups that support the use of embryonic stem cell research, liberals approach is considered to have some valid advantages.
Approach Taken by Conservatives:
In contrary to the liberals' approach, conservatives endorse the use of adult and umbilical cord stem cells only for research purposes. To support this view, conservatives argue that it's both ethically and morally wrong to conduct embryonic stem cell research and even for the government to fund such initiatives. While arguing that human life begins at conception, conservatives point out that the removal of stem cells from an embryo basically necessitates its destruction. This destruction of the embryo is considered as a matter that is equivalent to the destruction of human life. Conservatives support their view with the fact that adult stem cells have already proven to be successful in treating Leukemia, spinal cord injuries and Parkinson's disease ("Conservative vs. Liberal Beliefs," 2010). Since these adult stem cells are derived from several organ systems and tissues such as skin and the liver, placentas, umbilical cords and amniotic fluids; they do not require the destruction of a human life. Furthermore, conservatives argue that embryonic stem cells haven't been effectively utilized to help in treating diseases.
The basis of the conservatives' approach in opposition to the embryonic stem cell research is religious beliefs. They strongly believe that God is the only person with the power and ability to end life, a clear indication of the liberals' faith in non-human institutions. Furthermore, conservatives oppose embryonic stem cell research and support adult stem cell research since the former has processes that are painstaking with more misses than hits (Niharikas, 2010). Since the process of separating stem cells from embryos is complex, the extracted stem cells will not have the expected vitality and will therefore be useless. Therefore, conservatives consider embryonic stem cell research as a process with no guaranteed and reliable success. The embryonic stem cell research is also viewed by conservatives as a science that doesn't save human lives and a crime against humanity. While expressing their skepticism about this practice of using humans to cure humans, conservatives view has several disadvantages.
Since the debate over the use of stem cells for research purposes has continued to grow in America in the recent years, this debate had continued to have several political implications for both liberals and conservatives. The debate primarily centers on whether to permit scientists to remove stem cells from embryos and whether the government should fund such initiatives. The result has led to various policies and political measures being enacted. For example, President Bush signed an executive order to outlaw the use of embryonic stem cell research for medical purposes and outlaw federal funding for such initiatives, particularly those that destroy lives. As the debate rages on, both conservatives and liberals are appealing to various people to foster their approaches. This is regardless of the fact…