Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, February 4, 2013

the Public vs Stem Cells

[by William Phillips] In our short class discussion, we covered the multiple avenues of stem cell research, as well as the issues' relationship with abortion and the public eye. Within our own ranks, no one was opposed to stem cell research, and we all agreed that its opposition was rooted in ignorance, and that an informed public would definitely be in favor of further research and implementation. However, we did run into a slight confusion about the definition of "human" and the point of life in relation to appeasing religious groups. Coincidentally, our biggest derision was not about the research itself, but it's political context. What would the pharmaceutical companies do to compensate for losses, how could we implement stem cell research into our current health care system without losing profits, and should implementation be decided on a state or federal level? These questions remained relatively unanswered and, in my opinion, are definitely the more pertinent questions for proponents.


  1. Something that was brought up was that part of the reason this is an ethical issue is because it's also a generational issue. We were all in agreement that our generation is more informed about stem cells and the potential they have in science and medicine. Most people who are not well informed have related the idea of stem cells directly to abortion, so those who are against abortion are automatically against stem cell research without actually understanding what stem cells are. Similar to what William said, the issue our generation can expect to see is the issue on who funds stem cell research and who regulates it.

  2. Having not taken a biology course since sophomore year of high school I feel pretty ill-suited to address this sort of thing, but as William mentioned, I too agreed that using stem cells to further the well-being of humans seems like a rather logical choice. We also pointed out during discussion that while some of the embryos being used are indeed viable, they were never going to be birthed in the first place.
    We also discussed the alternatives to using embryos to do the research that were brought up in the book. One thing I thought was interesting was that after the author got done explaining that there were alternatives to embryonic stem cells, he went on to talk soley about how the government couldn't fund research that involved directly destroying or altering an embryo, as if he himself did not put very much store by the other means of acquiring stem cells. This may be because of the lack of significant studies into them, but I believe it bears mentioning.

  3. I personally do not support embryonic stem cells but I do not have issues with some of the other forms such as iPSCs. Amber in response to your comment about how people link stem cells to abortion I think that might be because using stem cells from aborted children could be seen by some as a positive side or benefit to abortion a justification of some sort. Also many people that are pro-life are pro-life because they believe that abortion violates the dignity of human life and are therefore against embryonic stem cell research for the same reason and not necessarily solely because it is associated with abortion. Now I know a reasonable amount about stem cells and I am Pro-life and I am not a fan of embryonic stem cell research. I also believe that there is a lot possible alternatives to be learned about and much more research to be done to look into possibilities for advancement in the other non-embryonic forms of stem cells.

  4. I cannot add much more diversity to the topic but I do see that our problem is less to do with moral subjectivity than regulation. At what point do we, the future of America, turn our focus to regulation. In some aspect, we have to accept that the stem cell field is the future of science. As the "is it human?; is it cow?; is it life?" segment pointed out, there are always going to be ways to confuse the public eye into seeing the results and not the process. Perhaps we should focus on William's point, the political agenda.

  5. we now can artificially print stem cells and would this ease the religous concern?