Stem Cell Controversy
The ethical issues that surround the use of embryonic stem cells make it difficult for scientists and researchers in some countries to receive the funding they need to pursue their work. The debate over the use of stem cells centers on the destruction of embryos for scientific purposes.
For example, the Catholic Church is fundamentally opposed to the use of stem cells for scientific research, a position once summed up by Pope John Paul II: "Experience is already showing how a tragic coarsening of consciences accompanies the assault on innocent human life in the womb, leading to accommodation and acquiescence in the face of other related evils, such as euthanasia, infanticide, and most recently, proposals for the creation for research purposes of human embryos, destined to destruction in the process. A free and virtuous society, which America aspires to be, must reject practices that devalue and violate human life at any stage from conception until natural death."
The foundation of their argument is derived from the question of when exactly human existence begins. Does it begin at fertilization? Or, does human life get underway 14 to 15 days after embryonic development? Both sides of the debate hold strong arguments, as one side claims the use of stem cells destroys human lives, while the other believes their use can save human lives.
Until both sides can develop a consensus over the use of stem cells, animal stem cells are most commonly used for scientific research. Even with the use of animal derived stem cells, advancements have already been made. Preliminary findings are demonstrating that use of stem cells are beneficial for a variety of conditions, offering a renewed hope for diseases and conditions that were once thought to be crippling and even fatal.