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bbarlowNHS
Con (against)
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ldoughertyNHS
Pro (for)
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Should Embryonic Stem Cell Research Be Legal?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/21/2013 Category: Health
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,769 times Debate No: 38910
Debate Rounds (5)
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bbarlowNHS

Con

Whether stem cell research should be conducted or not is a massive issue that can be approached from many fact-based perspectives, but the more controversial debate is over whether the stem cells used should be embryonic or adult stem cells. Some of the main arguments in favor of embryonic stem cell research claim that adult cells are less abundant and more difficult to cultivate in large amounts, and since they are more mature they have a lack of information on early human development. However, adult stem cell research is just as effective and held to a higher moral standard than embryonic stem cell research and thus is the only form of the exploration that should be in practice. One of the first issues with using embryonic stem cells is that they are undifferentiated while adult stem cells are sourced from body tissues and organs and therefore can lead to more specific and conclusive research (1). Also, as far as availability is concerned, adult stem cells have been effectively sourced from over 10 different tissues and organs to work towards a treatment for various diseases and conditions (2). The use of differentiated cells is favorable because of how much more specific research can be gauged off of them and the argument against the abundance of adult stem cells is weakened by the fact that they can be widely sourced.

Kelly, Evelyn. "Stem Cell Research: Stem Cells without Embryo Destruction." Issues: Understanding Controversy and Society. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
ldoughertyNHS

Pro

One of the most controversial topics discussed in modern society is the ethical implications of embryonic stem cell research. Stem cells are unique in their ability to transform themselves into other types of specialized cells from which tissues, bones, and organs are composed. They have the capability to reduce the need for insulin shots in diabetics, repair damaged joints, treat deafness and cancer, and potentially cure a plethora of other diseases that medical science struggles to treat today (1). While it is true that somatic and artificially produced "reprogrammed" stem cells can also be used to fight disease, they are more expensive and time consuming to produce, as well as difficult to grow and limited in uses in comparison to embryonic stem cells (2). The opposition to embryonic stem cell research originates mainly from the religious right and counter arguments hinge chiefly on personal belief and differing views on morality; for this reason, the restriction of stem cell research to only somatic and artificial "reprogrammed" cells is a senseless notion that would only serve to stunt the growth of medical science and progress towards the eradication of many of today's most troublesome diseases solely for the sake of respecting the beliefs of others.

Susman, Carolyn. "Stem Cell Use Remains Tough Topic." Palm Beach Daily News. 11 Dec 2012: p. A.6. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 10 Oct 2013.
Debate Round No. 1
bbarlowNHS

Con

Although not all believe that the use of embryonic stem cells is unethical, it is vital that the beliefs of every one of us is respected. The benefits of embryonic stem cells can still be achieved under the use of adult stem cells. A Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Boston has demonstrated the capability of turning ordinary skin cells into what appear to be virtually embryonic stem cells (1). The iPS skin cells that these researchers have proposed using are so easily obtainable from a patient that they can be used to produce entire organs for transplant that would 100% not be denied by the patient (2). Using and transforming these skin cells is better than using embryonic stem cells because they have the capability to produce the same and in some cases better results while avoiding the ethical concerns of embryonic stem cells.

Stein, Rob. "Cell Technique Works Without Embryos." The Washington Post. (2010): A2. ProQuest. Web. 27 October 2013.
ldoughertyNHS

Pro

The crucial detail that is often overlooked when personal beliefs become a factor in a dispute is that the necessity lies in respecting an individual's right to hold their beliefs, not the beliefs themselves. The beliefs one person adheres to should not dictate the behavior of people who hold different beliefs. Those who are afflicted with currently incurable and/or untreatable ailments shouldn't be forced to continue their suffering because others hold certain beliefs that put them at opposition to methods of research that would almost certainly lead to cures and treatments. Lawrence Goldstein, a highly regarded scientist and researcher at the University of California laboratory seeking a better understanding of debilitating disorders, makes the point that public research facilities exist to serve society and no research is more important than that which improves societal health and well-being; in order to make the most progress against disease, researchers must use all of the tools at their disposal, including both somatic and embryonic stem cells (1). Connecting to this point, Goldstein notes that the medical therapies developed using the research on adult stem cells, even with their limitations in viability and potential, attests to the vastly greater potential of embryonic stem cells, due to their exceptional flexibility (2). Potential scientific advancements that can benefit all of modern society should not be restricted or ignored in order to avoid offending the beliefs of some of its sub-sects.

Coleman, Mary S., Jay Noren and Lou A. K. Simon. "Embryonic Stem Cell Research Will Help Control, Cure Diseases." Michigan Chronicle: 1. Oct 2008. ProQuest. Web. 29 Oct. 2013 .
Debate Round No. 2
bbarlowNHS

Con

Adult stem cells can be used to help treat those with currently incurable ailments and still respect the beliefs of others. By acknowledging the beliefs of those against embryonic stem cell research and still moving forward with the research is disrespectful and unfair. Not all of the people against embryonic stem cell research are unaware of its capabilities, however. Mona Charen is the mother of a 10-year-old son with severe juvenile diabetes, and although she is an advocate for scientific breakthroughs Charen still believes that taking stem cells from human embryos is wrong (1). Charen also believes that it is more logical to allow human embryos to reach a later stage of development before utilizing them for research because they can then be used to study endoderm-based organs (2). The pros of allowing embryos to mature far outweighs the cons; valuable research can still be obtained while not only respecting but upholding the beliefs of all.

Charen, Mona, ed. Embryonic Stem Cell Research Is Immoral. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Print. At Issue.
ldoughertyNHS

Pro

Scientific research continuing in the face of adversity and opposition, regardless of its fairness and respectfulness towards the beliefs of its opponents, is nothing new. Jehovah's Witnesses are prohibited by their holy book to accept blood transfusions or to donate and/or store their own blood for transfusions, but medical science doesn't forbid blood transfusions in order to respect their beliefs; instead, Jehovah's Witnesses simply opt to decline blood transfusions to preserve their convictions. In a similar manner, it would be entirely possible for individuals opposed to the utilization of embryonic stem cells to refuse treatments and cures developed through the expansion of stem cell research to include both embryonic and somatic stem cells while not depriving those who are in favor of and/or suffering from diseases treated or cured by the research from advancing the knowledge and progression of medical science. I reiterate, it is irrational for a society to halt scientific progress for all in order to avoid potentially offending the beliefs of one of its sub-sects. Prohibiting the research of potential uses of embryonic stem cells in treating and curing debilitating diseases is unethical, as the use of both somatic and embryonic stem cells is necessary to successfully combat these diseases. Robert Lanza, scientific director at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass., concurs with the point that many scientists maintain that they aren't convinced that embryonic stem cells are made irrelevant by stem cells of the amniotic and somatic variety, saying that "There's not going to be one shoe that fits all. We're going to have to see which ones are most useful for which clinical conditions."; this sentiment was echoed by Harvard University stem cell researcher George Daley, who stressed that "[Amniotic and somatic stem cells] are not a replacement for embryonic stem cells" (1). In synchronicity with Lanza and Daley, Steven Teitelbaum, professor of pathology and immunology at Washington University School of Medicine, stresses that the notion that embryonic stem cell research is unnecessary and has no potential to provide treatments for diseases and injuries is simply not true and that the overwhelming majority of scientists and medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, Association of American Medical Colleges and the National Academies of Science, believe that both adult and embryonic stem cell research should be pursued; he notes that the reason for this scientific consensus is due to the fact that both somatic and embryonic stem cells have their own distinct characteristics and potentials to provide treatments and cures for currently incurable and/or untreatable diseases (2). The prohibition of embryonic stem cell research hinders the progress towards possible treatments and cures for diseases that are more difficult or unable to be treated with the knowledge gathered from somatic stem cell research almost solely for the sake of avoiding offending the beliefs of some groups of people, an utterly unethical decision that places more value on the feelings of certain individuals than the physical well-being of others.

"CAMR: Let's Tell the Truth about Embryonic Stem Cell Research." PR Newswire: 0. Jan 08 2007. ProQuest. Web. 30 Oct. 2013 .
Debate Round No. 3
bbarlowNHS

Con

Although Jehovah"s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions, the medical implications of the process are not replaceable. The implications of embryonic stem cell research can be mirrored by adult stem cell research, so it is a moral dilemma that can be avoided without harming medical progression. Despite what the media has portrayed, some studies show that adult stem cells are outright more valuable than embryonic stem cells. Science writer Michael Fumento shares this perspective and has the facts to prove it. Fumento highlights that adult stem cells are routinely treating or curing over 80 different diseases when embryonic stem cells are not even ready for human clinical trials (1). He also gives his insight on why the media has advocated for embryonic stem cell research, mainly because they are the same demographic that supports issues such as abortion and euthanasia (2). Many of the people against embryonic stem cell research are also pro-life, because of the overriding belief that human life begins at conception. On the flipside, those who are in favor of abortion generally share the same view on embryonic stem cell research, manipulating the ideas of the general public.

Fumento, Michael, ed. Adult Stem Cells Are More Valuable than Embryonic Stem Cells. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Print. At Issue.
ldoughertyNHS

Pro

The notion that adult stem cell research could replicate the potential applications of embryonic stem cell research in its entirety is a misconception that is simply not true. While adult stem cells have led to some successful treatments and therapies, many scientists continue to assert that research using stem cells derived from alternative sources have not shown the same promise as that of embryonic stem cells; additionally, researchers have maintained that certain stem cell lines are better suited to adapting and becoming particular cell types than others (1). The limitations posed by the currently scarce number of available cell lines could potentially be rectified by utilizing embryonic stem cells to treat or cure the ailments that adult stem cells have yet to have an effect on. With regards to the point about clinical trials, it is important to note that the reason embryonic stem cells have yet to reach human clinical trials is due to the restriction on their research. Without the ability to freely conduct research using embryonic stem cells, scientific knowledge of their applications cannot be progressed and the full extent of their potential will remain unknown. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that by restricting our research to the relatively small number of cell lines currently available, the scientific community is limiting its ability to achieve the potential therapeutic applications of embryonic stem cells, effectively squandering them (2). If we do not allow embryonic stem cell research to be conducted, the full extent of their potential will never be known and possible cures and treatments for diseases that are currently unable to be dealt with using current medical knowledge will be needlessly wasted.

LIBBY KEELING, Courier & Press staff writer 464-7450,or keelingl. "MAGICAL CELLS ETHICAL DEBATE OVER EMBRYONIC STEM CELL USE RAGES UNABATED Series: First of a Two-Part Series." Evansville Courier & Press: 0. Jul 30 2006. ProQuest. Web. 2 Nov. 2013 .
Debate Round No. 4
bbarlowNHS

Con

An embryonic stem cell research advocate may argue that embryonic stem cells have the ability to be manipulated into all cell types and adult stem cells do not. However, neurologist Ira Black at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has made a significant blow to that argument. Black has published results from one of his laboratories demonstrating the ability to convert adult stem cells into the three "germ layers" formed in early embryonic development (1). But, in line with the claim that embryonic stem cell research shares the media spotlight, Black mentioned that his department had not put out press releases on his findings. Black said, "It"s not my job; I"m a scientist and a physician (2)." If the skilled scientists and doctors behind the truths of adult stem cell research can focus more on the promotion of their capabilities, those in favor of embryonic stem cell research might ponder why they feel the way they do. The facts are there, but they need the media attention to show the superiority of adult stem cell research.

Fumento, Michael, ed. Adult Stem Cells Are More Valuable than Embryonic Stem Cells. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Print. At Issue.
ldoughertyNHS

Pro

Even with the advances made with adult stem cells, there is still no reasonable rationale for rejecting embryonic stem cell research altogether. Researchers have found that alternatives to embryonic stem cells, like "reprogrammed" or induced pluripotent cells, have limitations that prevent them from replacing embryonic stem cells entirely; despite opponents claiming that these cells eliminate the need for embryonic stem cell research, the majority of experts in the field believe each of the research paths need to be explored to eventually find the right treatment for the right disease (1). It is imperative that the scientific community explores the options available in order to accomplish its goals and develop treatments and cures for diseases that currently have neither using all accessible assets. Dr. Alan Trounson, head of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (which funds both embryonic and adult stem cell research), says that if researchers are able to move forward and perfect the creation and utilization of embryonic stem cells, then a proper comparison between induced pluripotent cells and embryonic cells can be made and the similarities and differences between the two can be fully understood (2). The various types of stem cells each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and the great potential of embryonic stem cells to treat and cure many debilitating diseases should not be dismissed in order to avoid offending some groups of people.

Miriam Falco, C. N. N. "Scientists Hail Gain in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research." St.Joseph News - PressOct 05 2011. ProQuest. Web. 5 Nov. 2013 .
Debate Round No. 5
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