issue guide: Stem Cell Research

Pro & Con

see also the skinny, background & facts, links

The debate over stem cell research can be simplified as one between those who respect the sanctity of life of the human embryo vs. those who think it's more important to end the suffering of children and adults with disease. But, of course, for many it's not so black and white - and figuring out what's the best policy is complicated by questions of the potential gain of stem cell research versus the alternatives.


Promise to cure disease

Advocates of embryonic stem cell research say it shows great promise for curing some of today's most intractable and debilitating diseases, including diabetes, Parkinson's and Altzheimers. They argue that anything that slows down the speed of research to cure these diseases will cause great pain and hardship to future victims and their families.

Adult stem cells don't cut it

Even though recent studies show adult stem cells may have more promise to morph into any cell than was previously thought, many - or most - researchers still agree that embryonic stem cells show greater promise.

Private funds are not enough

The federal government spends about twice as much on stem cell research as private companies do - but most of that federal money goes to adult stem cell research. Leaving research in the hands of private companies means slower progress toward a cure. (Worth a note: California funding of embryonic stem cell research will likely match or surpass federal funding of all stem cell research.)

The lines that are okayed to work on are problematic

There are only about 22 embryonic cell lines that are approved for federally funded researchers to work on. Of those, researchers now worry they may not be up to snuff; for example, some have been found to be contaminated with sialic acid.


The end doesn't always justify the means

Some ethicists argue that although it is important to search for cures for disease and embryonic stem cell research may bring a cure to some diseases more quickly, that isn't necessarily a justification for destroying life today. They also note there's nothing certain about the future promises of embryonic stem cell therapies - excitement about possible future cures have lead to dead ends in the past.

The value of all life and the morality of a society

Opponents to embryonic stem cell research have two ethical concerns. One is about the embryo itself; ethicists say, pure and simple, an embryo is life and so has a right to be protected. The other concerns society; ethicists worry that when a society starts to devalue the life of an embryo, it may move to more generally devalue life.

Adult stem cells may have as much potential as embryonic stem cells

Although embryonic stem cells were thought to have greater potential than adult stem cells, recent studies have shown they may have as much potential as embryonic stem cells.


Did we miss something, let some slant slip in, lose a link - or do you just have something to say? Drop a line below! In the spirit of open dialogue, cJ asks you keep it civil, keep it real and keep it focused on the message, not the messenger. See our policy page for more on what that all means.

stem cell research

i dnt think this is fair. ive read the information and done the research and i believe that scientists should stop stem cell research. they are using human embreos for their own tests. if it was up to me, i think it should be abolished. the reality is that they are taking advantage of unborn children for their own purposes. overall i dont see this as a fair act and really think it should be stopped

a random Joe (not verified) | February 24, 2010 - 12:25pm