Should U.S. Legalize Creating Human Embryonic Stem Cells by Cloning?

Good day ladies and gentlemen. As we sit here, debates on stem cells, human cloning and creation of human embryo continue to occupy discussion among scientists, economists, educators, academicians, politicians, world leaders and your mythical average Joe suffering from diabetes, leukemia, Parkinsons disease and other 20th century diseases that have only one objective, to take life.

The discourse that will be presented to you in the next couple of minutes will focus on the reasons favoring legalization or banning of creating human embryonic stem cells by cloning, here in the US. It’s important to note that in countries such as Japan, Korea and France,  this research procedure is very much put into law while in the UK, harvesting stem cells from cloning human embryos is outlawed.         These countries have their own scientific, moral and ethical reasons but I believe that it is the duty of each human being to know the pros and cons of this cutting edge scientific research option due to its gigantic consequences that will shape or unshape the definition of human kind in the coming decades.

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“A stem cell is a primitive type of cell that can be coaxed into developing into most of the 220 types of cells found in the human body (e.g. blood cells, heart cells, brain cells, etc).” Human stem cells are in focus here because these are the cells that can lead to development of organs, simply put. Imagine if you were a scientist and finally you had in your Petri dish, the first cells that will become tissues of the heart, brain or blood. Study for diseases on these organs, its causes and cures will be revolutionized.

Stem cells are harvested from human embryos.  “In order to collect these stem cells for research, a human embryo must be destroyed. One method of gathering embryonic stem cells is to clone a human embryo and then extract the stem cells. When we hear about the “promise” of embryonic stem cell research it is essential to understand that one of the desired methods of harvesting these cells is to clone tiny human beings.”

Here lies the big debate. What exactly are we asking to be legalized? Is it killing tiny human clones? Are clones human beings? Are we asking murder of one embryo to be a legal way to save thousands of lives? If we make this cutting edge process illegal, are we stealing hope away from those thousands of people who are suffering from deadly diseases? Though we cannot possibly answer all the questions clouding the issues of stem cell research, allow me to give you two sides of the coin of the legalization issue. Should the US legalize creating human embryonic stem cells by cloning?

Legalization has always been a process of advocating democracy in many fields. When you say an activity is legal, rules, regulations and responsibilities immediately follow it. For example, it is legal to carry fire arms if you have the papers which is acquired after one person goes through a series of tests. If you carry a firearm without permission, you could be jailed or punished based on the legal laws that democratic processes abide by. Put it simply, legalization puts everything in its proper order.

Legalizing human embryo cloning for stem cell research will put perspectives, actions in order. Laws will be written. Under these laws, limits will be set. As long as scientists and stake holders pursuing stem cell research abide by the rules, discoveries will continue. However, if they go over the set parameters of human embryo cloning, they will be punished under given laws. With legalization procedures, stem cell research will have the full advantage of reaching its full discovery potential. This leads to the second reason why legalization is of human embryo cloning for stem cell research is a positive point.

Another positive effect of legalizing human embryo cloning is that advancement of science will continue to save lives. The objective of human embryo cloning is not creating a human being. The main objective of this procedure is for scientists to harvest stem cells and pursue discovery of solutions to health problems that millions of people worldwide are suffering from.

With stem cell research, organs may be cloned that have a higher capability of not being rejected by the patients. You have heard of horrifick illegal harvesting and selling of kidneys. Kidney transplant has gone a long way since and it has saved lives. Children with transplanted kidneys are given a second chance of living their full lives. With stem cell research legalized, scientists will be expected to live up to making their skills and tools to live up to the challenge of sustaining life and saving lives.

The responsibility of prolonging life has been bestowed on human beings who treasure life the most, compared to other animals in the kingdom. What is the use of all these advanced technologies than to push the limits of science so that life is appreciated and lived to the fullest. With science research, the Black Plague that killed almost two thirds of Europe is but a historical episode. With scientific breakthroughs, infection is arrested and millions of people are saved. If you had a chance of curing your own child from ailment, you’d pursue it because no parent in his right mind would not give his own life for his children. The survival of the species is instinctive. This is a hardwired instinct that sets human apart from wild animals.

Unfortunately, the debate is not that simple and romantic. The other side of the issue has been as passionately discoursed by scientists, religious leaders and politicians. Legalization of human embryo cloning for stem cell research equates to degradation of moral and ethical responsibilities.

It has never been ethical to kill human beings. Death row has always been controversial up to this time. Ethanasia and abortion are continuing struggles for many societies and cultures. The human embryo is alive. Once the sperm and the egg unites, life force has begun, whether it is merely a clone or not. Destroyong this embryo is murder. Legalizing murder leads to gigantic consequences that will become precedent to degradation of other moral and ethical standards.

Some debates are locked in the concept of life. Murder is the destruction of life. The embryo being a living thing and passing as a humankind is still being challenged today. Anti legalization advocates believe that it is so while pro-legalization advocates still consider the embryo as a non-living human being since it still has to be “born”. Johnston writes in 1999 that something is alive not only when one can measure it with tools that still limits man’s capacity to decipher the truth. Can we consider the human embryo as something that’s alive and human like you and me? “In the end, the best we can do is throw up our hands and say with a mixture of wonder and embarrassment: “Well, when you know, you know…” (Johnston, 1999).

For everyone here that believes that the cloned human embryo is as alive as you and me, as alive as the beating of your heart, would you sacrifice its life in order to use it as material for research that leads to yet unknown discoveries? Do you have enough power to decide its fate just like when the Nazi’s rounded up the Jews and decided to annihilate them. Lessons have been learned in the past. The lesson from summarily killing human beings for any purpose whatsoever has brought social diseases that up till now has no cure, such as corruption, deception, greed and malice. Legalizing the murder of tiny human beings, though cloned, still human beings, for the purposed of research, no matter for what grand dreams and ambitions to save the world is insane.

To legalize or not legalize, that is the question. Discerning this dilemma, one has to decide if the cloned human embryo is a living thing or not. If one so decides that it is, the decision would be easier. One is just faced with the ethical dilemma if we have the power to destroy human beings for a cause or not. If one decides that the human embryo is just another tissue, then why go to the trouble of going through the legalization issues.

Another consequence when cloning for stem cells is legalized is the industry that it will develop.  Legalizing cloning leads to legalizing the stem cell harvesting which is essentially destroying tiny human lives. Essentially, legalization is a signal sent to scientists that what they are about to do is allowed, moral and ethical. But we know better because humanity has been there and done that.

“During the Nuremberg trials after World War II, researchers became painfully aware of the need for ethical reflection on research when the world learned about the horrors of Nazi research on human beings. Such physicists as Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer came to terms with their moral responsibilities in the war effort, both as supporters of research on atomic weapons during the war and as advocates for the peaceful use of atomic energy after the war (Zuckerman 1966).” (Loewenstein, 1999)

I stand before you, alive because when I became a human embryo, nature was left to work on me and nature was left to decide the color of my hair and genetic codes that are rightfully, naturally mine. I also believe that getting sick, though caused by unnatural, man made conditions, are yet a part of how nature works. All these diseases has importance that exceed our human comprehension as of now. There are so many ways to save the planet and to save lives. To save lives by killing lives is insane. No one benefits from it. It is like war, where everyone becomes a victim.

Legalization of cloning human embryos for stem cell research remains controversial because the issue cuts through the American moral and ethical beliefs. The mere fact that it disturbs us means that in some part of our moral and ethical systems, something is telling us that this is wrong. There’s something terribly wrong here and we just can’t simply accept the fact that in the end, we are victims of the wars that we create. In this particular discourse the war is between what we can do and what we ought to do.

The end will never at any kind of context and culture, justify the means. Humankind has gotten past the stage to take a life for a life, a tooth for a tooth. Civilization has crossed barbaric boundaries enough to appreciate and respect life, most specially at its first miraculous stages. Any embryo, given time and proper nourishment has the capacity to grow into its full human form. Just because it’s just a ball of cells doesn’t categorize it as a material fit for any scientist’s experimentation.

Legalizing cloning for the purpose of stem cell harvest will hinder scientists from looking for other ways to harverst stem cells that will not lead to harm or murder. Some scientists have used donated embryos from excesses of in vitro laboratories. These excess embryos will be destroyed anyway so it didn’t seem unethical for them to use these “to be discarded” embryos for researches that would lead to savings lives that generally falls into activities for the greater good.

Laws are tools that help men and women protect life and liberty, especially those lives that couldn’t protect or articulate themselves such as unborn fetus, comatose patients and cloned human embryo. Legal systems protect ethical and moral values. We all gather here because laws have permitted us to enjoy humanity and develop our lives away from barbaric cultural norms from where we came from. We’ve come so far from cave man days. It is ironic if after all the technological and scientific advancements that we hold now, it still leads us towards killing the only precious thing in this world. Life.