A now age old question is still making headlines in the news. Is stem cell therapy morally acceptable? If one considers the source of the stem cells, one might shudder. Stem cells are derived from aborted embryos whose cells have not yet differentiated to the specialized cells of a human being. Therefore, the stem cells may be induced to at least partially replace tissue or even organs of the human body that have been damaged or physically injured. One might ask, is it morally acceptable for clinicians to use cells of an aborted fetus for the purpose of returning function of various organs of their patients. It may be argued, that rather than being used for that purpose, these fetuses should be given a proper burial. However, one might contest that if there is any way that a patient can be saved without doing harm to another living human being, this avenue should be followed. Yes, some religions mandate that the remains of all human beings, even those that have not been born yet, have to be buried. But, what is the cost of denying living individuals the right to the best medical care possible; even at the cost of going against certain religious doctrines. And what about the fetuses that have passed away from mothers whose religious beliefs don’t include commandments governing the disposal or use of unborn fetuses that have passed away.
One might take the easy out on this discussion and decide to leave the answers to these difficult questions to the medical profession. But it would seem that there should be a governing body in place to weigh the moral consequences of this dilemma against the amount of good that could be done by using these stem cells. Should there be a blanket guideline; or should the answers to these questions be determined on a case by case basis. And if so, what group of individuals or governing bodies should be empowered with this power. What, one might ask, is the one or even multiple factor or factors that should be considered as the defining aspect of this decision. There’s no easy answer. One is taught from a very young age that the deceased should be given respect. But, wouldn’t the highest order of respect to give an individual would be to save another person’s life? When making the decision on how to resolve the dilemma of using or banning the use of stem cell therapy, I hope the powers that decide these answers weigh all the consequences carefully, and make an educated decision.