Why limiting the progress of science is immoral too.
With Barack Obama’s latest decision to lift the ban on human embryonic stem cell research imposed by the previous Administration since August 9,2001 the controversy between the purpose of science and the moral belief that “every life is sacred and must be respected” is yet again up for discussion.
Christian pundits and Conservatives think this new decision is “a reason to possibly lose your soul” because it’s going to manipulate the creation of human embryos for the sole purpose of generating therapeutic tissue.
Scientists all over the globe are convinced that the pluripotency, or capacity of these embryonic stem cells to differentiate into many different kinds of useful replacement cells, is much greater than the pluripotency of the adult stem cells previously used and could open the doors for more advanced and useful findings.
Adult stem cells can in fact differentiate only into a limited number of tissue types, in this way restraining the purposes they could be used for in terms of tissue replacement therapy for human organs depleted by a disease.
The stem cell with the greatest potential, known as totipotential, is the fertilized egg cell capable of developing into a complete organism. Younger stem cells are able to replace a larger number of tissue types, so younger stem cells have a greater chance to help cure diseases. Also, embryonic stem cells are the only type of stem cell able to function as neurological cell replacements, for example, for patients with Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis, whose nervous cells degeneration is the cause of their slow and painful cerebral death.
So, bottom line: Until now, limiting stem cell research to only adult stem cells, we have already lost 9 years worth of precious research time because we thought that creating a life to save another was immoral.
Isn’t knowingly limiting the progress of science immoral as well?
Especially when there is a chance that more advanced scientific research could save lives and, maybe, help find a cure for some degenerative disease, such as cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis?
I think so.
The patient in a vegetative state, unable to speak, walk or breath on his own because of multiple sclerosis is indeed no different from the embryo created to harvest stem cells that might help the patient live.
But again, there is a fundamental truth when it comes to this kind of conundrum: Science and religious morals are never going to lead to a similar, acceptable answer. This has been true since the time of Darwinism in which the scientist made the case that the origin of the species was due to natural selection, but then and later Creationists have been debating against this theory, choosing to see life as the result of a superior deity.
This controversy will endure forever. It’s up to people in power, such as Bush before and Obama today to make the decision for all of us. The past term was the time for the religious and conservative; this term is the spring of scientific research.
To each his own.
Check out what the Washington Post has to say about this here