Controversies and Regulations Surrounding Stem Cell Research


All good things will face challenges in their implementation, especially when it touches on human life. One such research facing numerous challenges is stem cell research.

While this technology presents new avenues to develop life-saving cures such as those offered at Seattle stem cell center, others protest against the means employed to develop the cures.

The Controversies

The main bone of contention lies in the ethics and morals surrounding stem cell research. However, not all stem cell researches are under criticism. For example, adult stem cells don’t face this debate.

Embryonic stem cells, on the other hand, especially those extracted from human beings are the subject of debate. You see, when scientists extract the stem cells from an embryo, it’s destroyed. For this reason, some people believe this is a breach of ethics and morals.

They say an embryo is already a human being since the eggs are already fertilized, thus they shouldn’t be used for research. Since life begins at conception, the opponents argue that an embryo has a right to life similar to other human beings and they should enjoy protection.

In contrast, researchers say embryos are no human beings yet. Furthermore, they say they receive full consent from donor couples who contribute the sperms and eggs used to develop the embryo. In addition, the research supporters argue the fertilized eggs would be discarded after fertilization.

However, new breakthrough technology is easing the debate courtesy of IPSCs. With this technology, researches don’t need to use embryos in their research, but again IPSCs can grow into human embryos which means in theory, researchers can create a clone, thus presenting another moral and ethical debate.

Federal Regulations

Different regimes in the United States have had varying policies on stem cell research although no law or regulation bans this research in America. Instead, there are regulations on public funding and its use. Nevertheless, some states have bans in place restricting the creation and destruction of embryos.

Stem Cell Policies Under George W. Bush (Retired President)

Retired President George W. Bush, in August 2001 ascended into law what would allow federal funding to support limited embryonic stem cell research. However, this research had to meet certain requirements:

  • The entire process from harvesting to destruction of the embryo started on August 9, 2001, before 9.p.m.
  • Stem cells must be extracted from embryos created for the sole purpose of reproduction and was no longer wanted.
  • All donors must provide full consent and this donation wouldn’t have any financial reward.

Stem Cell Policies Under Retired President Barrack Obama

Through Executive Order 13505, retired President Barrack Obama, in March 2009, revoked his predecessor’s statement.

In this order, the federal government would no longer support stem cell research. This provided the National Institute of Health an opportunity to start funding embryonic stem cell research. Afterward, the institute released guidelines which would guide the research funding.

The main purpose of the guidelines was to ensure all funding by the institute would be ethical and moral.

As much as stem cell treatment provides a bright future into lifesaving treatment, controversies around its development, destruction of embryos and usage continues to drag its advances.

However, with IPSCs, researchers can now breathe a sigh of relief since they don’t require embryos, which have been a subject of debate.

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