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The student newspaper of, by, and for Ames High School.

The WEB

The student newspaper of, by, and for Ames High School.

The WEB

Embryonic stem cell needed despite skin cell breakthrough

After November’s hype of reprogrammable skin cells, the ongoing controversy sparked by embryonic stem cells suggested a possible compromise between science and religion. President Bush praised this discovery, yet ignored the previous embryonic stem cell work that led to it, which of course he has refused to fund. Although a great finding, skin cells’ success is not set in stone yet – further research must be done on embryonic stem cells and skin cells, but without federal funds it may be a while before we save lives. The ethics behind throwing away embryos is messy – the procedure has been labeled murderous, causing up a major dispute over whether a ball of cells also known as a blastula is a living thing. Pro-life supporters often overlook the actual situation, though. Embryonic stem cells donated for scientific research come from warehouses in which they are frozen and stored by clinics that no longer need them. These are usually the leftover, less desired by-products of couples seeking in-vitro fertilization. So if anyone should be blamed for throwing away potential life, it ought to be the parents. Or should it? Couples aren’t even given the option to donate their spare embryos. The clinics may keep the unwanted embryos for a decade or so, but eventually dispose of them anyway. The hypocrisy of these policies is stunning. The public blames scientists who are trying to revolutionize medicine by utilizing these stem cells but completely overlooks the clinics that leave them to rot. To emphasize on stem cells’ immensity, it should be noted that if applied to full extent, they hold the power to heal almost any presently incurable disease. When a unique set of DNA is implanted, undifferentiated stem cells are able to multiply and replicate any desired organ, tissue, nerve, or muscle. They can also be grown to replace any diseased or mutated cells in people with all sorts of cancer, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease… The list is endless. It may seem like people are reluctant to see such leaps in the medicinal field, but as a matter of fact, nearly 60 percent of Americans support embryonic stem cell research. President Bush continually vetoes any bill coming into his hands that proposes funds for stem cell research, going against the majority of people’s opinion. That’s interesting, because the government also funds the war in Iraq, which is strongly opposed by the majority. Although some have beliefs that counter the use of stem cells, the outcome of the exploration has the potential to save millions of lives, unlike war, which does the opposite. Furthermore, Bush has no problem sending troops overseas to be brutally killed every day, yet refuses to destroy a ball of cells that bears no conscience. Troops die, leaving behind families and jobs, but he stays concerned about those poor little embryos. The logic is astounding. Thanks to private organizations that have granted very large sums of money to labs researching embryonic stem cells, an alternative was found. Skin cells behaved in ways similar to embryonic cells, with the addition of a few extra genes. However, a lot of fundamental research on embryonic stem cells must have been conducted to discover this. Additionally, the experiment was done on mice, so it is not certain that the same will hold true for humans. Further research on embryonic stem cells is necessary. Sadly, our government will not support it. I ask everyone against the use of stem cells to reconsider. Its potential benefits are amazing. We’ve murdered slaves, tortured enemies, and gone to war on behalf of our beliefs and in hopes of a better future. Stem cells are a better future – lets take advantage of our knowledge of them.

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