Stem cell research, a topic that welcomes controversies and ethical issues, was brought to the spotlight this August, when U.S District Judge Royce C. Lamberth issued a preliminary injunction to stop federal funding of embryonic stem cell research that he said destroys human embryos.
According to the National Institutes of Health website, embryonic stem cells are derived from eggs that have been fertilized in an artificial environment, called in vitro, instead of in a woman’s body. These cells can be transformed into whatever their creators desire, replacing cells in ailing patients and potentially ridding them of disease. This differs from adult stem cells, which only serve a specific purpose.
According to CNN, Ron Stoddart, executive director of Nightlight Christians Adoptions, said he supports adult stem cell research but is against the destruction of embryos to get embryonic stem cells.
The end of human suffering is important, especially when the source of the suffering is a disease that can be cured with the help of this research. Of course, no one wants to kill one life to save another – that is unethical and nonsensical. Nonetheless, embryonic stem cells that are artificially fertilized should be supported by federal funding.
Many oppose the idea because in vitro fertilization creates embryos. But this argument overlooks the fact that this research is attempting to help people who have little-to-no ability to control their lives because of their health.
The means to end this suffering may not be justifiable to some, but for now, it is the only means available. If given the choice, many who have watched love ones suffer would do anything in their power to save them from misery.
On Sept. 28, an appeals court for the District of Columbia temporarily lifted Lamberth’s injunction, allowing for federally funded embryonic stem cell research. Diseases that have the potential to be cured by stem cells include blood- and immune system-related genetic diseases, cancers, juvenile diabetes, Parkinson’s, blindness and spinal cord injuries.
According to the Washington Post, 9-year-old Kara Anderson is now able to walk after receiving experimental stem cell treatment in China for her cerebral palsy. Her cure came after her physicians in the U.S. told her she would be unable to walk because of her illness – a diagnosis countless others may no longer have to bear with the advent of this technology.
Zahira Babwani is a senior majoring in biomedical science.