ProsEmbryonic stem cells are thought by most scientists and researchers to hold potential cures for spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, hundreds of rare immune system and genetic disorders and much more.
Scientists see almost infinite value in the use of embryonic stem cell research to understand human development and the growth and treatment of dieases.
Actual cures are many years away, though, since research has not progressed to the point where even one cure has yet been generated by embryonic stem cell research.
Over 100 million Americans suffer from diseases that eventually may be treated more effectively or even cured with embryonic stem cell therapy. Some researchers regard this as the greatest potential for the alleviation of human suffering since the advent of antibiotics.
Many pro-lifers believe that the proper moral and religious course of action is to save existing life through embryonic stem cell therapy.
ConsSome staunch pro-lifers and most pro-life organizations regard the destruction of the blastocyst, which is a laboratory-fertilized human egg, to be the murder of human life. They believe that life begins at conception, and that destruction of this pre-born life is morally unacceptable.
They believe that it is immoral to destroy a few-days-old human embryo, even to save or reduce suffering in existing human life.
Many also believe that insufficient attention been given to explore the potential of adult stem cells, which have already been used to successfully cure many diseases. They also argue that too little attention has been paid to the potential of umbilical cord blood for stem cell research. They also point out that no cures have yet been produced by embryonic stem cell therapy.
At every step of the embryonic stem cell therapy process, decisions are made by scientists, researchers, medical professionals and women who donate eggs...decisions that are fraught with serious ethical and moral implications. Those against embryonic stem cell research argue that funding should be used to greatly expand adult stem research, to circumvent the many moral issues involving the use of human embryos.
Where It StandsNow that President Obama has lifted the federal funding ban for embryonic stem cell research, financial support will soon flow to federal and state agencies to commence the necessary scientific research. The timeline for therapeutic solutions available to all Americans could be years away.
President Obama observed on March 9, 2009, when he lifted the ban:
"Medical miracles do not happen simply by accident. They result from painstaking and costly research, from years of lonely trial and error, much of which never bears fruit, and from a government willing to support that work...
"Ultimately, I cannot guarantee that we will find the treatments and cures we seek. No President can promise that.
"But I can promise that we will seek them -- actively, responsibly, and with the urgency required to make up for lost ground."