Samples Biology Stem Cell Research

Stem Cell Research

1141 words 4 page(s)

Stem cell technology has emerged as one of the most promising technologies in health sciences. It holds promise in several areas including bone marrow transplant, blindness, and diabetes. There is support for stem cell research among such distinguished experts as Francis S. Collins and the technology has already been successfully applied to treat certain medical conditions. The support for stem cell research has also been growing among Americans. But the issue is not without its controversy as opponents claim stem cell technology is akin to murder because an embryo is a living person. But abandoning stem cell research may not only put national economic and social interests at stake but may also raise ethical issues of its own.

Medical science has come such a long way in such a short time that many technologies such as cloning and in vitro fertilization would have been the stuff of science fiction just a century ago. But few medical science technologies were believed to be as revolutionary as stem cell technology is expected to be yet it has also emerged as one of the most controversial issues in the public arena. Nonetheless, stem cell research should continue to be supported because the economic and social gains by the society will far outweigh any potential costs.

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Stem cell research should be supported because it will help us make breakthroughs in some of the toughest challenges facing medical science now. The promise of stem cell technology is not merely an idea but has already been proven and even experts support it. Doctors have already applied stem cell technology in bone marrow transplants (Mayo Clinic). Similarly, researchers have also shown the promise of stem cell technology in treating progressive forms of blindness (Stein, 2012). National Institutes of Health Director, Francis S. Collins testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies that stem cells can turn into nearly every single type of cells in the human body. Stem cells also enable researchers better understand the origins of many diseases affecting babies and young children (Collins, 2010). Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International Chief Scientific Officer, Robert Goldstein claims embryonic stem cells show huge promise in treating diabetes (Goldstein, July 14, 2004). It is apparent that stem cell technology is almost unrivaled given its application in a wide range of medical conditions and supporting it will advance the overall interests of the society.

It is important to note that stem cell research holds so much promise that if government doesn’t support it, the private sector will embrace it anyway. But the society will benefit more from government support of stem cell technology because the private sector will restrict stem cell technology applications to protect their self-interests even if it means huge social costs for the society. Unlike the private sector, the government will not limit applications of the technology due to patent rights. History suggests that private sector sometimes hurts innovation through restricted use of intellectual property by third parties and we have already seen it in the semiconductor and aircraft industries in the past. Unlike the private sector, the government licenses its technology more generously (Rai). Since private investment in the stem cell technology will take place any way, it is in the society’s interest to promote public support of stem cell technology so that the benefits of the technology are more widespread.

Stem cell research should also be supported because it is the will of the majority of Americans now and the will of the majority is respected in democratic societies. A poll by Harris Interactive found that 72 percent of Americans support stem cell research (Harris Interactive). Stem cell research doesn’t only have public support in the U.S. but is also being nationally supported in other countries including Canada, Israel, Finland, Singapore, Japan, and U.K. (National Institutes of Health). The public support might also have been influenced by the fact that supporting stem cell is necessary to protect U.S. lead in health sciences because the rest of the world has also embraced the technology due to its tremendous benefits.

The critics of stem cell research are often influenced by their religious beliefs in claiming that it is unethical. They argue embryos are human beings because life starts at conception, just as Pope John Paul II contended (Armonk, 2010). The critics have right to their opinions because it is a free country but church and state are separate in America and religious beliefs should not influence public policy. There are many rules that could be justified through religious teachings but they cannot be imposed on the public such as banning divorce, adultery, and eating meat of certain animals. Religion-inspired beliefs and values have no place in public policy, thus, the belief that embryos are living things cannot be justified to oppose public funding of stem cell research. The critics also ignore the fact that opposing stem cell research also raises several ethical questions. Stem cell technology holds promise regarding treatment of many medical conditions and opposing the technology means opposing a great opportunity to alleviate the sufferings of millions if not more.

It is clear that stem cell should be supported because the benefits to the society will far outweigh the costs. Stem cell research holds the promise to some of the most challenging health conditions and if government doesn’t support stem cell research, the private sector may establish monopoly and pursue private benefits at the expense of overall social benefits. The opponents of the technology are often influenced by their religious beliefs but religious beliefs should not shape issues of public interest.

  • Armonk, M. S. (2010, October 1). Stem Cell Research. Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices, pp. 536-538. Retrieved from
  • Collins, F. S. (2010, September 16). The Promise of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health .
  • Goldstein, R. A. (July 14, 2004). Adult Stem Cell Research. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee — Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space.
  • Harris Interactive. (n.d.). Embryonic Stem Cell Research Receives Widespread Support from Americans. Retrieved December 30, 2013, from
  • Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Stem cell transplant. Retrieved December 30, 2013, from
  • National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Other Online Soures. Retrieved December 30, 2013, from
  • Rai, A. K. (n.d.). Stem Cell Research: An NPR Special Report. Retrieved December 30, 2013, from
  • Stein, R. (2012, January 23). First Hints That Stem Cells Can Help Patients Get Better. Retrieved December 30, 2013, from