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Critical Considerations: Ethics and the Use of Embryonic Stem Cells Eugene Hui 8/28/2013 1.

To what extent are these positions similar and how do they differ? The Roman Catholic standpoint on the use of embryonic stem cells does not adhere to specific criteria such as those exhibited in Islam. In the matter of embryonic stem cell use, the key moral problems raised would be the destruction of embryos, and hence, the ending of a persons life (should one perceive an embryo to be a human being). But if there was a solution that would exclude the destruction of embryos, then the Roman Catholic tradition would not condemn the harvesting of embryonic stem cells. But at the same time, the Roman Catholic way of thought also questions the justice in devoting resources to such research when there are many more basic medical problems that have to be solved. In the end it is clear that the Roman Catholic stance is a combination of support and condemnation. But from an Islamic standpoint, which is heavily based on the Quran, the use of embryonic stem cells is completely acceptable as the Islamic definition of human life does not encompass that of the embryo. According to the Quran, the status of a legal person is only achieved in the later stages of development, such as when form and movements are observed. As embryonic stem cell research harvests stem cells when they are still embryos, they would thus be excluded from category of human beings. In addition, the Quran also remains silent in some areas relating to stem cell research, thus it can be assumed that the Quran can tolerate such actions. Ultimately, Islam condones stem cell research in hopes of improving human health. While it is true that both religions have different standpoints on what is defined by life, both do not oppose stem cell research itself. The two mentioned religions definitely have different perceptions on life and it what it actually defines, but when it comes to the science, it is not put under question and scrutiny. 2. What might be the views of other stakeholders in the debate? a. Patients For a patient whose life has drastically changed because of the lack of a cure for their condition, stem cell research could be the solution to their problems. In the case of paralysis due to accidents such as car crashes, patients could potentially walk again should stem cells be used to reconnect nerves along their spine. Likewise, a patient with Parkinsons might be able to write legibly for the first time in years, given that stem cell therapy works. Candidly speaking, patients always want the best for themselves, so without a doubt they would want stem cell research to move forward. b. Doctors As doctors and researchers are at the forefront of scientific innovation and breakthroughs, stem cell therapy on a wide basis could be the largest scientific breakthrough in decades. Not only could terminally ill patients leave the hospital, but this would also allow science to move forward. Without a doubt, doctors would be looking forward to the day when stem cell therapy is used on a widespread basis.

c. Parents Like patients, parents always want the best in terms of care. If stem cell therapy could cure the condition that is causing problems for their children, then they would eagerly support its research so that one day they could benefit from the use of stem cells. d. Research Companies When it comes to companies, one of the main goals, if not THE main goal, is to make profits. If a research company can manage to provide cure for many diseases through stem cell therapy, then they would stand a chance to make billions in the long run. At the same time, a breakthrough on such a colossal scale would bring attention to the company, thus improving its image among citizens. 3. What is your point of view on this very topical issue? Personally, I am an ends justifies the means type of person, meaning that I support stem cell research wholeheartedly even though it might involve the destruction of countless numbers of embryos. I do not view embryos as human beings, thus I do not find it morally or ethically wrong to harvest embryonic stem cells. As long as embryonic stem cells can benefit the human race in the long run, then the processes used to achieve that goal would be justified. Aside from my personal feelings on the issue, the potential of using embryonic stem cells is very promising. Currently, stem cell therapy is still in its clinical trial stages, but one day, it could be used to treat brain damage, spinal cord damage, heart conditions, cancer, Parkinsons, ALS, deafness, blindness, and even minor/major wounds. At the time of writing, scientists managed to create the first complete living model of the human brain all in a petri dish. Originally grown from stem cells, this living model allows for studies on the human brain in areas such as medications and brain disorders. As technology advances, a living model of the brain could even be used to study schizophrenia and autism. Of course, all this was achieved through stem cells. In addition, stem cell research needs to continue in order to provide individuals with a second chance at life. It is not fair to have a child suffer from their entire lives as a result of brain damage incurred during childbirth. In a similar way, a once healthy person should not be paralyzed for the rest of their life because of an accident, especially when they were not at fault. The prospect of living life differently is both physically and mentally exhausting for patients, therefore stem cell therapy would allow a reversal in their predicaments and hopefully revert life to where it should be. As crazy as it may seem, we might even need the help of stem cells one day. It is hard to predict what will happen next, and one day we might end up being that patient waiting for a miracle to happen.