Latest proposals for stem cell therapy are not “sick”.
Breaking news today revealed plans for professionals in Glasgow to conduct stem cell trials, which if successful will provide a potential full cure for patients who have suffered stroke. The stem cells woud be taken from aborted foetuses. Currently only one thrd of stroke patients fully recover (Ghosh P, 'Stem Cell Stroke Therapy Assessed', 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7795586.stm, accessed on 18.01.2009). Whereas success rates could flourish under the proposed treatment. Despite this,human rights activists have shown distaste with the proposals, claiming that they are "sick" (ibid at 1). Is it sick to use an aborted foetuses lives to prolong others lives?
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This is a long awaited scientific breakthrough and should be praised.
The promise held by stem cells has been long known. They have been used before to treat those who are semi paralysed but caution has had to be exercised. It is an ingenious use of scientific medicine. Totipotent or pluripotent stem cells have the capacity to develop from one cell into specialised tissue within the patients body. As proposed here, a stem cell if inserted into damaged brain cell tissue could have the potential to develop into new brain cell tissue and thus help a stroke sufferer to regain coordination and potentialy make a complete recovery. Such regeneration would be incapable without these "magic" little cells. This breakthrough if successful at trials shoud be heralded for what it really is. A complete miracle.
It has been long awaited for a reason. As with all scientific advantages, scientists must be sure that they know what they are dealing with. We do not know everything we should know about DNA or cell renewal. Furthermore, it is unfair to announce nationwide that these these trials have the potential to cause a miracle because, if problems are found and success is not as great as it is made to be, then, it is not fair to build up patient's hopes.
Go ahead for the trial has been given by the UK regulator.
This point verifies itself. Initially the company running this scheme, Reneuron, did not pass the test for the trals to go ahead. However since then permission has been granted(ibid at 1). As with all other regulators of services, ths should be enough to satisfy public concern. Laws are well placed in this country to look after the interests of citizens and there is no reason whatsoever to doubt the decision of regulators.
UK regulators do not always get it right. There have been many mistakes impacting on the public and patients alike. For instance, although concerning a different industry, many food items are recalled after passing food standards tests. Somehow, it may not be so easy to know whether something has gone wrong or to recall the stem cells once it is known.
The proposed treatment is along the same lines as organ donation.
Taking stem cells from aborted foetuses is effectively the same as taking organs from donors after their deaths. Arguably donors give consent whereas foetuses give no consent. Despite this the principle is the same. Moreover in our society those carrying donor cards may be perceived as heroes by donating a body part, which after their deaths, is no longer of any use to them but could be of much use to another.
Yes, donors do the right thing. The right thing for them that is. If someone gets satisfaction from actng altruistically after their death, then this is their choice. However for others, the idea of giving up an organ after death in order to help another is disgusting. Quite simply not right, cutting up your body and being disfigured. Selfish as this might seem, bodily integrity is important and should be respected. Giving up aborted foetuses may be seen by some people to be equally as wrong as giving up organs for donation.
Doctrine of Double Effect.
This is a long used and well established doctrine whereby the ends justify the means. If a greater evil is prevented by committing a lesser evil then the effect of the lesser evil is negatived. Arguably, using an aborted foetus that (callous as it seems) has no more use in life or no more prospect of life, in order to give an extended life to someone else who without the chance may die early, is surely the better moral stance to take!
Yes but if the means are completely contravening all ethics and morals then surely this doctrine ceases to justify them. It can not be right to turn a blind eye to the bad effects in order to embrace the good effects. Turning a blind eye is a slippery slpe that has occured many a time in history. It should not be allowed in the present.
No Law is being broken.
Ethics and the law have a loose connection. English law does not give a foetus independent rights from its mother. It has no legal rights before birth. Therefore by using stem cells from a foetus, no law is being broken. NO consent is necessary. Doctors should be able to use stem cells derived from a foetus in order to bring about a greater good.
Just because they correlate does not mean the law has to trump ethics. Attention should be paid to what is morally right. This does not necessarily mean that just because the law allows it, it should be committed.
The potential of this medicine is astounding.
It is only once in a while that good news is broadcasted these days. It should be embraced. If the trials can pprove the extent of success then it does not have to stop at stroke victims. Cardiovascular disease is one of the biggest killers in the UK and if stem cells could be used to develop heart tissue any such suregery is safe then the potential for this medicine is amazing. Indeed why stop at that; skin grafts and basically anything whereby new cells and neurones and tissues can be developed. The effects could be far reaching.
It must be remebered we are still in the trial stages and just because the cells develop doesnt mean the patient will miraculously recover. Physiotherapy and all sorts of care will also be needed to help the patient.
Looking at the basics.
Instead of giving doctors and scientists justification by glossing over the grim details, it should be considered what is actually proposed by the treatment. The scientists are aiming to take cells from a foetus that has been robbed of its potential life. If having life cut short is not bad enough then they aim to mutilate its body by taking its stem cells and then of course the useless bit of the foetus is left behind, unwanted. This is not ethically right. Utilitarian views on this are wrong.
Sometimes the needs of the individual has to be foresaken for the needs of the public. Society needs to find a cure for those suffering stroke. Sacrificing a few totipotent tissues is the right approach to take to preserve the lives of so many more.
Taking stem cells from aborted foestuses is not necessary.
Stem cells can derive from many areas not just aborted foetuses. For instance, adults still have stem cells and embryos have stem cells. It would be more ethical to take stem cells from unused and wasted IVF embryos than aborted foetuses. Unused IVF embryos will be thrown out sooner or later anyway, so consenting couples could always put them to good use.
There may be other sources of stem cells but they are not totipotent stem cells only pluripotent. They will not work as well or even at all. Stem cells are most efficient when derived from embryos because that is when most of the cells are undeveloped and unspecialised and totipotent. Meaning that they can adapt into more of a variety of specialised cells and tissues and this means they have more chance of success in curing patients. Stem cells derived from adults are not totipotent they are pluripotent. They can not change into multiple types of specialised cells and tissue. They can only develop into a small variety of specialised cells. There is no point in taking stem cells from other sources that have less chance of success because all that time and effort put in by doctors and all that false hope given to patients will be futile.
What do you think?