Why I Don't Support Embryonic Stem Cell Research MAG

November 22, 2017
By bookworm07 BRONZE, Bluffton, Indiana
bookworm07 BRONZE, Bluffton, Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you leftover embryos from in-vitro fertilization, destroy them and use their stem cells to cure diseases.

Wait, what?

Believe it or not, some people think that doing that is morally acceptable. It’s called embryonic stem cell research, or ESCR, and some scientists believe that it is the key to curing diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

As someone who watched her grandpa suffer from Alzheimer’s, I would be ecstatic if we could find a cure. Watching Grandpa ask where Grandma was and seeing his face when we had to remind him that she died years ago was nothing short of heart-wrenching. And the latest research on Alzheimer’s has revealed that it may be genetic, which means that I and the people I love most might be headed down the same path as Grandpa. Nevertheless, I don’t believe that ESCR is an option that we should be pursuing.

My first reason is a purely practical one. Embryonic stem cells, despite all the research that has already been conducted, haven’t succeeded in curing any diseases, whereas adult stem cells have actually had some success. Unlike those from embryos, adult stem cells can be harvested without harming anything or anyone.

My second reason is about ethics: ESCR is morally wrong. In order to harvest the stem cells, the embryo must die. Science is pretty firm on this: the preborn are human beings from the moment of fertilization. This makes ESCR morally tantamount to killing toddlers and using their stem cells for research.
Some people try to justify the use of embryonic cells by saying, “Well, they’re just going to die anyway.” But that’s true of all of us: we’re all going to die someday. Our life
span, whether it is two days, two months, or seventy-two years, has nothing to do with our value. If embryos are human (and science says they are), then they deserve human dignity. That means we must not destroy them for medical research.

I understand that ESCR has noble intentions. Scientists and doctors are trying to save human lives. But if we have to murder other humans to achieve that goal, then we need to find another way. I genuinely want a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but not at the cost of innocent human lives. None of us should desire that. 

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This article has 10 comments.

on Mar. 23 at 2:04 pm
bookworm07 BRONZE, Bluffton, Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments
Okay, so here’s my take on what appear to be your arguments: 1. Killing newborns is wrong because they can feel pain. 2. Dead people, or people’s severed body parts, are pretty much the same as embryos. 3. The cells being used for ESCR would never develop into humans anyways. So, the first problem I have with your arguments is that you draw a distinction between killing embryos and newborns because newborns can feel pain. Therefore, if one follows your argument to a logical conclusion, as long as someone does not feel pain, it is permissible to kill them. However, there are humans who do not feel pain, and I’m not just referring to people on painkillers or anesthesia. There is a condition called “congenital insensitivity to pain” that causes a person to be unable to feel pain. According to the logic of your argument, it would be okay to kill that person. Obviously, however, that is not how morality works. The second issue I found with your argument is when you equated embryos to corpses and severed limbs. It’s true that, as Alvin said, neither have much cognition; however, we need to realize the difference between not having cognition anymore (corpse) and not having cognition yet (embryo). Another, more obvious, distinction is that the embryos are alive, whereas a corpse or severed limb is dead. Perhaps all of the individual cells are still alive, but this alone does not constitute life as those cells are not communicating with one another and working as a unit. The embryo’s cells, on the other hand, are all working together as a whole being. Science has repeatedly affirmed that embryos are living and whole beings from the moment of fertilization. It has made no such claims regarding corpses and severed limbs. Finally, your claim that the embryonic stem cells used in ESCR would never develop into human beings anyways is perhaps technically true, but it is still problematic. Embryonic stem cells, just on their own, would never develop into human beings, just like my skin cells never would. However, I am not advocating the view that embryonic stem cells are human beings, but that the embryos that those cells come from are. The problem I have with ESCR is that in order to harvest those cells to use for research, the embryo dies in the process, and science says that those embryos are human beings. So essentially, we are intentionally killing innocent humans so that we may have access to their cells. That is the part that I believe is morally wrong.

KXG9000 said...
on Mar. 22 at 10:04 pm
Ok, I'm back. It's been a while since I had other stuff to do. Now back to business, when I said sentience gives us value, never did I say one has to be more sentient than the other. Of course it wouldn't be OK to kill a newborn, because biologically speaking, they have a brain and nervous system developed enough to process thought and feel the pain of needles. Also, sentience is more of an internal property, not external. External would be race, gender, class, age, etc. With what Alvin said, the flaw in the "humanness no matter stage" logic is that then a dead person would also be considered worth protecting. Next thing you know, even a severed arm or a pile of guts would be considered "human". Last of all, you're talking about the wrong ball of cells. Don't forget, the embryonic stem cells the scientists engineer to make organs weren't built to grow into any human being whatsoever, thus I don't see why people would make a big fuss over something not meant to be a human. But to be fairer on the side note, I do have to give you credit for having feelings for things I see little to no value on. It's just that our values are different. But hey, that's why we're people. (Signed in as guest 'cuz I forgot my password and can't reset it.)

on Feb. 21 at 2:06 pm
bookworm07 BRONZE, Bluffton, Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments
Thanks for your comment! My understanding of your position (and feel free to correct me if I misrepresent you) is that since embryos are not as developed as born humans, “terminating” them (as you put it) and using their cells for research isn’t immoral. The problem I have with this position is that (similar to the sentience argument I addressed in a below comment) differences in level of development exist in all humans. For example, my 5-month-old nephew is certainly less developed than I am (he can’t walk or talk or even crawl), yet that doesn’t mean that he is less valuable than I am and that killing him for medical research is justifiable. If our level of development determines our worth, then there is no such thing as human equality, and that puts us in a very bad spot. It reminds me of a quote by Abraham Lincoln: “You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own.” While Lincoln isn’t addressing the same issue that we are, I think there is something to be learned here if we substitute “level of development” for “color” (or “intellectual superiority,” Lincoln’s second example). If our level of development determines our value, run away very quickly from anyone more developed than you. Also, I believe I addressed in my article that ESCR has been ineffective despite all of the research that has already been conducted, so I don’t really see any “good” to be gained in it, whereas adult stem cell research has seen some success and doesn’t raise any ethical issues.

alvinwellsii said...
on Feb. 21 at 3:41 am
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
There is nothing wrong with embryonic stem cell research (and discovery). You're right that a human being is a human being from conception onwards. But dead people are also human beings and embryos, at the time they are terminated and are still useful as stem cell donors, are just as cognizant as dead people are. Just calling them humans doesn't really mean much. There are all sorts of stages of development of human and embryos are not at any stage where we should feel morally disturbed to see them perish (even though I know that sounds harsh to some people, it's still true in my opinion). The good that we stand to gain is more than justified in harvesting these cells from non-thinking, non-feeling, non-aware, under-developed humans that never saw the light of day nor made it much farther than the zygote stage.

on Feb. 19 at 6:35 pm
bookworm07 BRONZE, Bluffton, Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments
Thanks!!! I really appreciate your comment!

on Feb. 19 at 12:44 pm
WritingAddict03 SILVER, Saint Peters , Missouri
5 articles 0 photos 68 comments

Favorite Quote:
Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid. - Albert Einstein

YES!! Thanks so much for your article and this comment! I greatly appreciate your addressing this controversial topic and handling it so well. The ESCR case has always troubled me. It is morally wrong, and by killing humans -no matter how small, we are killing the future of our nation. Same to you, too, KX9000. I might not agree with your position on the matter, but I love that you shared your opinion as well. It helped me to learn more about how you view the issue, and it was a great experience for me to learn that. (Thanks to both of you for being so respectful and polite as you exchanged varying views. Part of the reason I love Teen Ink is that everyone respects each other and their beliefs while still getting their points across. Which, truthfully, is more than many adults can say! :) )

on Feb. 6 at 9:47 am
bookworm07 BRONZE, Bluffton, Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments
Thank you! Your comment made my day!

on Feb. 5 at 8:54 pm
SeekJustice BRONZE, Goulburn, Other
1 article 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose." --Jim Elliot

"And what does the Lord require of you? To Seek Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

Thank you for writing this, I completely agree and I really loved reading your opinion. Keep writing :)

on Feb. 3 at 10:05 am
bookworm07 BRONZE, Bluffton, Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments
Thanks for commenting! The problem I have with the "sentience gives things value" position is that it undermines human equality because no two people have the same amount of self-awareness. This would result in some people being more valuable than others, and this clearly cannot be correct. Also, under this logic, one could justify killing newborns or unconscious people since they are not self-aware. As soon as we declare that some external property (whether it is ethnicity, gender, or sentience) is what gives humans value, we demean someone. The only quality that all humans share equally is our humanness, so that must be the property that gives us value and rights, and science is pretty firm that the preborn are living, distinct, and whole human beings from the moment of conception; therefore, they are as valuable as fully-grown humans and deserve the same protections as we enjoy.

Kyle Garcia said...
on Feb. 2 at 10:13 pm
Kyle Garcia,
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Ok, excuse me if I sound inconsiderate, but I too have some strong opinions on this big battleground of a subject. To me, if ANYTHING living were to prove its worth of protection under the moral of doing no harm towards living beings, it needs to be sentient. In other words, it should be able to think, have emotions (be it joy, fear, and sadness), and have nerves to feel pain with. Unfortunately, the embryos you defend can't fill any of these criteria, the reason being they haven't got the parts developed enough to do the job at all. Also, why else do vegans exist? They care about the well being of the animals they so protect, which DO fill the criteria of sentience mentioned. Sure, an embryo or a fertilized egg cell can be considered "alive", but only in most of the same senses as my eye, a carrot, mold on a wall, and bacteria. The point being, I believe it's really the sentient that deserve the dignity it needs to be protected by ethics and morals.

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