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Stem Cell Research Legislation

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"In the beginning there is the stem cell; it is the origin of an organism's life. It is a single cell that can give rise to progeny that differentiate into any of the specialized cells of embryonic or adult tissues." STEWART SELL, Stem Cells Handbook

Have you ever thought that humans would eventually see the day where we could cure the incurable? That there would be a solution to cancer, AIDS, and birth defects? A miracle among human beings is being researched and it is thanks to stem cell research. Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR) is probably the most significant and compelling area of medical research today, whether in reality, or perception, or both. Stem cell research is used for investigation of basic cells which develop organisms. The cells are grown in laboratories where tests are carried out to investigate fundamental properties of the cells. Any step of advancement in this research can create a cure in the world of sickness in ways that were only imagined (Haydock, DeJesus, 2011). The use of stem cells could potentially cure diabetes, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, heart conditions, and more. The history of stem cell research has endured quite a journey. From being a breakthrough in science to being banned by the President, Embryonic Stem Cell Research has come a long way in the fight to be viewed as ethical and life changing.

ESCR has a plethora of pros and cons. Since the 1973 Roe v Wade decision legalized abortion, society in the United States believes that ESCR is inevitably tied with the politics of abortions because in order to do research on the cell, the embryo will die when the cell is retrieved, and Congress fears this would encourage woman to have abortions. On the other hand, much research is left to be done to prove this is not the case. (NIH, 2009) Another con involved with Stem Cell Research is that we as humans should not try to play God. Humans are made a specific way for a specific reason and by performing certain scientific research; we are controlling the way humans could be conceived in the future. However, due to this research, we could have the ability to help treat medical problems such as birth defects and cancer.

History of Stem Cell Research Legislation

Stem cell research first started in the early 1900's due to bone marrow transplants using adult stem cells. In 1998 Dr. James Thompson of University of Wisconsin isolated cells from the inner cell mass of early embryos, and developed the first embryonic stem cell lines. Some are convinced Dr. James Thompson was the man who helped start the stem cell war. Dr. Thomson stated, "If human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough. I thought long and hard about whether I would do it." Eventually, Thompson did decide to move forward with the research. He would obtain the embryos from fertility clinics where they would have otherwise been destroyed because the owners did not want them anymore. This particular case is what set off a national debate that is still occurring today (Kolata, 2007). Unfortunately, Thompson's discovery would not be funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) like many of his other scientific projects had been covered in the past.

In 1995, Congress placed a ban on specific funding from the NIH for any involvement with human stem cell research. However, in 1999, shortly after Thompsons break through and several ethical disputes with NIH, they released draft guidelines for funding allowed only in private sectors. In 2000, the NIH released final guidelines that were officially backed up by President Clinton. Clinton allowed funding of research on cells derived from aborted human fetuses, but not from embryonic cells. Scientists were thrilled to have to opportunity to research such an amazing study and could possibly save millions of lives in the future.

Right after the eruption of stem cell research, there was a new President taking office that did not have the same beliefs as Clinton did about the issue. The issue of stem cell research became a high-profile political issue in the U.S. during the first year of President George W. Bush's term in office in 2001. Avoiding the topic of banning funding for quite some time, Bush eventually enacted a ban on federal spending on August 9, 2001, for the purpose of deriving new embryonic stem cells from fertilized embryos. He argued that performing research on embryos is destroying human life.

Throughout the years of Bush's Presidency, there were many attempts to reinstate funding for stem cell research. In 2006, there was a request lift the ban, or at least not be as strict, the Senate passed all bills, however when the President was to sign them off, they were vetoed. Another Veto took place in 2007 when similar



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