Friday, April 9, 2010

Stem cell research

The other night I watched a show called catalyst, an Australian science program that discusses a number of current scientific issues and the latest research etc. One of the segments involved the ongoing ethical debate surrounding the use of stem cells for scientific purposes. This sparked my mind into thinking, where do I stand on all of this?

To flesh the argument out, the basic dispute lies in the stage at which something can be considered to be a human life. Is for example, a group of cells, such as the ones being considered for scientific purposes, a human life? If not, at what stage in the early development of humans can we consider there to be human life?

If we transfer this onto a religious stage, the program pointed out that Islam considers human life to only be fully formed 40 days following conception, and Jewish people believe a similar thing. This is very different to views held by other religious faiths, and considering my own upbringing as a Catholic adherent, I disagree with this, naturally.

In a Christian sense, the main problem arises when those ethically opposed to the use of cells for research clash with those that believe that to help people with a number of disabilities; it is ethical TO use them. Is either side wrong? Those with a number of disabilities, of which we currently have little understanding, often rely on the use of stem cells to uncover the basis of their disease, and in doing so, hopefully uncover a form of cure for it. This dispute creates major religious tension, and pushes the faith of those involved.

In my own opinion, I have to say, while I have relatively little understanding of the concept, that I am understandably lost on the notion of when it is that “life” as such, begins. I feel however, that there are enough people to benefit from the use of stem cells that it is acceptable to undergo research, but these cells must be treated with respect, and used in a way which minimizes the need to simply throw away such potentially valuable resources.


  1. Hey I found your blog via the blogger forum.

    I am more of the camp that supports the use of stem cells for research on all levels and personally I do not believe in a religious morality being attached to stem cells.

    If you want we could do a link exchange, let me know and good luck with your blog.

  2. i totally see your POV, and in many ways agree with it. hard to judge the matter though...

    a link exchange would be fine. im guessing thats basically a follower swap?

  3. Link exchange is where I place your link on the sidebar in my blog and you do the same, we could follower swap as well.

    About Stem Cells in terms of artificial insemination the morality cannot be really applied to the use of the stem cells, as multiple fertilised cells are created of which only one or two survive. So the morality would be along the lines that this is industrial scale abortion. Which to me doesn't hold much water, plus the failed cells might as well be harvested for stem cells.

  4. Yeah that sounds good. ur blog seems to have good content, so yeah i'm cool with that. ill work out how to put u in somewhere =P.

    of course artificial insemination holds no moral disputes, as you are using it for the precise reason that morality is questioning against.

  5. there is no issue with taking stem cells from adults, as long as what they are used for is for ethical purposes - ie. helping to treat disabilities. However, in taking from a foetus, it is killed. Life is life from the very beginning at conception - it is growing by that stage with the full potential to be a human being. Whether it has been born or not, or at 40 days, it is still alive, and to make the choice to kill it disregards the respect life deserves.

    I agree that there are benefits to stem cells etc but this can be achieved without killing the unborn, if cells are removed from an adult instead.

  6. an issue i know about!

    we researched stem cells when we were studying Patricia Piccinini's artworks in art (in particular "still life with stem cells"). All her artworks focus on various scientific issues and are meant to challenge people's ideas of them. They're amazing artworks too :) You should check some of her stuff out..

  7. I am completely for stem cell research. I have had this debate with many people and have considered all views, including the ethical side of it, as i am of the Catholic religion also.
    I, personally, feel that a foetus is not "alive," as people say, until it is actually in the world. I don't consider a group of cells to be a living, human being, no matter how callous that may make me seem.
    However saying that, i don't necessary see abortion as a thing i agree with. I just feel that if the foetus would be aborted regardless, it should be used to possibly benefit us in the future.
    Medicine is continuously advancing and this is a thing that could possibly save many humans lives. Why not be for stem cell research, when the benefits could be enormous.

  8. a foetus is anything up to time of birth. so if you feel that, why is birth the crossover point necessarily?

    i understand your POV, and i'm all for the research as well, but i guess I cant agree with your interpretation of where life "begins" as such. see what I mean?


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