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English Literary File_Vol 6

the people of the United States would be able to direct the research in the path they thought to be most important, but the same would not be true with private funding (“Embryonic Stem Cell”). This article nearly perfectly embodies my viewpoint on HESC research. Clearly, HESC research has the potential to have immense health benefits for currently incurable diseases. In addition, although HESC research could progress while limited to the private sector, the most effective and transparent way to continue the research would be in public institutions of higher education and research. Federal funding would allow the most intelligent people in medicine to research applications of embryonic stem cells and then to integrate that into medical treatment. The main concession of the Alliance for Aging Research to critics of HESC research is that it could be considered abortion because it intentionally terminates an embryo’s life. However, few embryos would be affected. The author glosses over the negative effects of HESC research, but I agree with what they are saying. Because embryonic stem cells can divide indefinitely, “a small number of fertilized eggs could produce all the stem cells researchers will ever need” (Alliance for Aging Research). The death of embryos, while unfortunate, has such great lifesaving potential. In addition, stem cells are taken from embryos created outside the human body in laboratories. Stem cells extracted from a very limited supply of these embryos could potentially save or improve millions of people’s lives. I believe it is moral to carry out HESC research because of its potential benefits in medicine. John Harris argues in “Stem Cells, Sex, and Procreation” that stem cell research is ethical. After explaining the benefits of stem cell research, he states his “principle of waste avoidance”: if good can be done with existing resources, it should be done if the resources would be wasted otherwise. In this case, he is referring to frozen embryos from infertility clinics and aborted fetuses. Often, doctors and/or donors have to decide whether to let unused frozen embryos, which were intended for in vitro fertilization, die or whether to use them for research. He believes it is unethical to waste the embryos when they have such a great life-saving potential. He also believes that once a fetus is aborted, it is immoral to let the stem cells present go to waste for the same reason. I agree that embryos left over from in vitro fertilization should be used. The frozen embryos will die eventually, so what harm is done if they expire sooner rather than later? If their stem cells are extracted, the embryos can be put to good use, but the stem cells will simply be wasted if the embryo is never implanted in a woman’s uterus. In order to appease those against using embryos, however, the parents of the embryos should be able to choose whether to donate the extra embryos to HESC research or let them die a natural death. I believe that it should not be legal to use aborted fetuses for HESC research, however. If that were allowed, there would be a potential that people would abuse the system by conceiving a baby for the sole purpose of aborting it and extracting its stem cells. Using aborted fetuses for HESC research would compromise the importance of human life. James Delaney wrote “Embryo Loss in Natural Procreation and Stem Cell Research: How the Two Are Different” in direct response to Harris’ “Stem Cells, Sex, and Procreation,” focusing on the Catholic perspective. He explains that in vitro fertilization is unacceptable under the Catholic belief because it intentionally sacrifices or destroys some embryos so that another may live. Because it is immoral to destroy an embryo, such as through abortion, it is therefore immoral to destroy embryos by extracting their stem cells. For Delaney, it follows that HESC research, despite its potential benefits to medicine, is unethical solely because it sacrifices an embryo. While I understand that it is not ideal to sacrifice an embryo, I believe that the benefits of HESC research greatly outweigh the negatives. Very few embryos are needed in order to sustain HESC research, so one single embryo could eventually save or improve millions of lives. Is it fair to say that the life of one three-day old embryo created in a laboratory, not in a human uterus, is more important than the lives of millions? If even two people could be helped with one embryo, it would be worth the unfortunate cost that extracting stem cells causes. Although there are great potential benefits that could arise from HESC research, some believe it is unethical. Dr. J.C. Wilke argues in “I’m Pro-Life and Oppose Embryonic Stem-Cell Research” that HESC research is immoral. He begins by explaining his opinion on the difference between experimenting on human tissue and human beings themselves. He says that it is ethical to carry out research on human tissue, but it is unethical to do the same on human beings. Wilke reasons that an embryo is a human being: human life begins when a sperm and an egg unite, which he says forms a fertilized egg. They ELF 2015 (Vol. 6) 3


English Literary File_Vol 6
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