Ever since 1998, when researchers discovered that stem cells extracted from embryonic tissue could regenerate to become any type of cell, the nation has stood sharply divided on the morality of such research. When stem cells are taken from an embryo, the embryo loses its viability: it cannot become implanted into a womb or develop into a fetus. To knowingly damage an embryo in order to remove stem cells is, for some, equal to destroying human life. For others, who see great promise in what stem cells might do to cure illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, it is immoral not to move forward with such research.
The polarity of these arguments does not do justice to the complexity of the issues involved. The question of whether to pursue stem cell research rests in a larger context of questions about nascent human life and the imperatives of scientific research.