The Obama administration wasted no time in lifting the outright ban on the use of federal funds to finance all forms of human embryonic stem cell research. This decision has drawn the national debate over this highly divisive issue along flashpoints. Many have wondered what this whole brouhaha is about and most importantly why it is consuming such a huge amount of energy both in its support and criticism?
Another important question that begs to be answered is, granted human embryonic stem cells have the potential to facilitate significant breakthroughs in the quest of orthodox medical science to alleviate some of the worse forms of chronic maladies that is troubling millions of people across the world, why should government funding of a noble initiative such as this one be a matter of contention? Having raised these questions, I am of the honest opinion that beyond the superficial pep talk about the supposedly grandiose rationale behind embryonic stem cell research are deep seated ethical, legal and to a very limited scope religious conflicts that informs my decision to oppose the concept of federal funding of such an activity.
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At the heart of my argument are basic facts that gyrate from the core ethical and legal contradictions mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Once again, I remain convinced that asking the right questions about the idea of embryonic stem cell research will further illuminate my position as well as those of others who stand in opposition to the engagement of federal government’s money on questions of conscience. To begin with, will it not be prudent to go beyond the purpose or motivation for this kind of research by exploring other related and vitally viable alternatives? Doing so enables a platform by which all the contending issues surrounding the ethical and legal disputes to be charitably addressed.
There is no point challenging the fact that all contemporary civilizations are built on a foundation of the tenets of the rule of law; I even dare to say that increasingly the most repressive regimes of our day and age have some allowance for justice regardless of what form it takes. It is also common knowledge that jurisprudence is a reflection of the collective juridical precedents embedded in the legal fiber of the society. Returning the argument to the United States, it is also true that over the years the founding fathers built this nation with the guarantee of placing the rights of the individual above the implicit rights of the state. Evidence of these facts are enshrined in the first ten amendments of the constitution of the United States. Stated differently the US constitution guarantees that the individual in both implicit and explicit terms remains the single inviolable subject of the land. To this effect the constitution protects the individual from exploitation or utilization of any sort to serve the interest of the public or the state.
A very popular argument associated with stem cell research supporters is the erroneous propagation that human embryonic stem cell research is an exclusive achievement alien to the practice of medical science. The patent truth is that the process is still far from been touted as a breakthrough given the real constraints it is wrought with. Much as the idea sounds very grandiose and glamorous it has not yet reached the threshold of medical breakthrough. Most importantly being an area of promising research should not be misconstrued for an outright success in medical science. Mind you every medical product goes through long periods of examination, verification and regulation before been brought to the mainstream to be used for therapeutic purposes. Embryonic stem cell research products must as a matter of principle go through similar stages before being declared successful. Contrary to this norm proponents are disregarding these core elements of principle in exchange for cheap sensationalism.
What the mainstream supporters of the immoral act of stem cell destruction have chosen to ignore are the several alternatives that we already have. Indeed other equally revolutionizing therapeutic options with even greater success propensity yet less destructive capacities of human embryonic cells constitute another viable alternative. For instance in the recent past, there have significant successes in using the brain cells of matured rats to create muscle tissues of rats. In another development there have been reports of stem cells harvested from the blood of umbilical cords being used to generate brain tissues serving the metabolic processes required in the area of the brain in need (Irina et al 2006). Human fat cells harvested to be generated into muscular tissues, cartilage cells and liposuction for human bones (Connoly, 2005). Put together, all these illustrations in their individual respects further corroborates the case being advanced here against the scientific destructive use of embryonic stem cells.
One of the compelling arguments put forward in support of the need for the federal government to finance embryonic stem cell research is based on the premise that there is an overwhelming need for medical solutions to the many diseases afflicting humanity (Cowan et al 2005). Basing the case on the need factor alone does not nothing to address underlining ethical conflicts arising from the supposed need. Our collective values as Americans for instance do not allow the use of an adult’s organ without prior consent, for transplant purposes either in death or life. This also holds true for the use of embryonic stem cells as dictated by the principles of natural law. It is even becomes very abhorrent for governmental complicity in the destruction process through the funds it offers. It is the right to individual life that is at stake, therefore funding any such act compounds the ethical absurdity.
Going by the legal dynamics, many have sought to make exemptions here and there in pursuit of political expediency. The bottom line is not whether the federal government should fund some aspects of the research whilst abandoning others. Congress has no constitutional and legal mandate to sanction the financing of such programs thus leaving the option open to decentralized state powers and other private stakeholders with vested interest in the programs. It is even worrying to think about the risk of politicizing the funding process once the federal government comes into the picture. Experience shows that funding decisions are going to be influenced by the forces of lobbyist as opposed to the need base criteria that should be used, assuming that is even going to be done. It therefore makes the so-called “need driven” factor very weak in its bid to garner support for federal government funding.
Researchers will find it hard to resist the temptation of carrying out work on possible therapeutic areas that do not fall within the range of eligibility for federal funding. An unavoidable consequence that can erupt from entertaining such position is the fact that a financial dependency syndrome will be in the making consequently devaluing innovation devoid of political manipulation and expediency; consequently compromising the competitiveness of the research industry in the long term.
In the midst of the raging debate, lies my motivation to highlight the fact that engaging federal money in this area amounts to a violent assault on the Bill of Rights of the United States constitution which unequivocally places the right of the individual far above the perceived rights of the state. It becomes a tragedy of history and affront on civil liberties if the federal government is given the final say in its power to state the limits of human life. Jurisprudence will be thrown into turbulent waters if the federal government is allowed to exhibit this arbitrary power with the funds of the public, especially by alleging to sacrifice the individual rights in the name of pursuing the public good.
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