I am so torn in this debate. I work in medicine and see the dreadful effects of motor-neuron diseases, autoimmune diseases and many of the terrible afflictions that stem-cell research could help treat or even cure, every day.
And yet there is a part of me that thinks, if we try to regulate, fix, cure or destroy everything that comes along, we are in the process and in the ultimate long-term, only going to contribute to the end of human life as we know it.
Disease, famine, environmental disasters and such things are (and this is just my opinion) tools our universe uses to regulate population, to make sure that we do not override our world and therefore run out of resources and means by which to sustain ourselves. Humans are virulent reproducers; our current population of over six billion attests to that. And look what is happening to our world. It is polluted, poisoned, heating up, natural disasters occur more and more frequently, people are starving, so much of the world's population live under the poverty line, the list goes on. If we continue to try to fix everything that comes our way, things that could be nature's way of regulating us as a species, I think we will end up destroying ourselves. Because our planet can only sustain so much life before it starts to cave, which is happening already.
AIDS, to me, is the biggest indicator that the more we try to stave off diseases that currently have no cure, the more nature is going to come up with stuff that we can't fix, and that will spread until we are back where we should be in terms of population and what can be sustained on Earth. Since it was first recognised and started to be tabulated, 75 million people have contracted HIV. 30 million of those people are dead. Another 5 million are being infected each year. By 2010 (and this is if things don't speed up) nearly one hundred million people around the world will be infected with or will have died from HIV. And although advances have been made, there is no cure.
That makes me think, we've got to slow down, we've got to accept the inevitability of disease, and death. We were not made to be immortal, or even infallible. To be human is to live and to die.
That is a very controversial viewpoint, I understand, and where does one draw the line? Do we stop all medical research? Do we allow people to suffer? Do we stop trying to cure cancer? No, I don't think so. But we have to be careful that we aren't playing God, that we aren't trying to win every battle, because I don't think that's what we're here for.
To use adult stem cells, discarded and unwanted, for research is fine. To even use the stem cells from aborted foetuses is ok, too. But to specifically culture embryos in order to harvest stem cells crosses a line that I don't think should ever be crossed. You shouldn't mess with creation. I feel the same way about cloning. There has to be some ethical point, some moral line that when we reach it, we say `Enough is enough'.
Humanity seems to sometimes be about the pursuit of the unreachable. Bigger. Better. Faster. More. I just think that we need to stop and sit back for a minute, and finish what's on our plates before we go looking for dessert.