Stem cells are a large focus of study in today's biomedical world. They are also a large focus in the world of ethics, politics and religion. It seems that for every statement praising the progress of stem cell research, there is an equally disturbing report proclaiming the lack of ethics demonstrated by such research. Stem cells have proven to have an endless possibility for medical advancement, however, at the same time, the method by which stem cells are derived (particularly embryonic), remains a morally divisive issue. The progress in stem cell studies and experimentation is inevitable. Eventually, each of us will need to become educated on this highly controversial topic and reach our own conclusion as to where we stand.
In order to develop an opinion as to whether or not stem cells should be used, one must first understand what they are and how they are used. Biologists refer to stem cells as "'undifferentiated,' meaning they have not yet decided what they will be," (Easterbrook, 1999).
These cells can, through physiological or experimental methods, become specialized in nature. This means that they can become specific cells programmed to repair spinal cord damage, to regenerate blood or to cure a debilitating disease. "Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. Serving as a sort of repair system for the body, they can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell or a brain cell," (National Institute of Health, 2004).
There are primarily two...