Caroline L. Scholte-Domenic e PortfolioPresentation Transcript
1 Undergraduate Studies ePortfolio Caroline Scholte-Domenic Bachelor of Arts in Psychology – Criminal Justice, 2009
Personal Statement For the past twenty five years, I have observed an increase in violent crimes committed by young offenders and have often reflected upon what the cause of this social change may be. Although this change in behavior has not gone unnoticed by society and professionals in the field of psychology, avenues towards prevention have not been explored to the fullest extent. Studies have been conducted showing relationships between a child’s level of resilience and the likely hood that they will end up in the criminal justice system which has prompted the development of early intervention programs such as head start and no child left behind. However, studies have also shown that many of these same children have already developed abnormal and unhealthy social behaviors before they reach the age where they are eligible for an intervention program. Although the Education of the Handicapped Act, 1986 led to the establishment of programs for very young children who display behavioral difficulties or delays, these children must meet strict eligibility requirements determined by qualified professionals and very often the children most in need do not have access to professionals who would recognize difficulties and recommend these children to available programs.
Personal Statement cont. Parents and a few family members are often the only individuals having access to these children until they attend preschool or kindergarten. As such, my long term goal is to develop a curriculum to be introduced in high schools which encompasses topics such as healthy parenting guidelines, recognizing behavior difficulties in very young children and the negative effects on children of poor parenting. It is also my goal to adapt this curriculum into a parenting program to be offered in conjunction with prenatal classes offered at local healthcare clinics. Our children are our greatest resource however there are no prerequisites to met or instructions required before entering parenthood.
Personal Statement cont. It is not enough as human beings for us to simply exist in life and accept what is. We were given the ability to examine, learn, grow, and change each other and our environment for better or for worse. Our society has transformed from a community setting with extended family and support, into a society of individualistic and self centered citizens. Learning how to raise a healthy child has now largely been left up to trial and error where in the past, new parents had the support and guidance of experienced family and community members. It is our responsibility to replace the source for learning successful parenting since our societies evolution is also responsible for this knowledge being lost.
Reflection Although I have obtained a significant amount of knowledge within the field of behavioral, social, criminal and developmental psychology as well as biopsychology through my pursuit of a BA in Psychology in Criminal Justice, there is still a significant body of knowledge is am lacking which is necessary to ensure that the pursuit of my goals are ethical, useful and accepted as being valid courses of action to improve society. While I have a basic understanding of performing research, I am far from qualified to design and implement any study which would be necessary prior to approaching the powers that be with a proposal to add parenting classes to public schools. Research methods are much more complicated and more diverse than I was previously aware of. It is also necessary for me to obtain more knowledge in the area of educational psychology to allow me to develop the most effective program which would permit the greatest benefit. Through my studies at Argosy University, I have found extensive research which has already shown that parental behaviors, attitudes and social skills strongly influence the development of negative behaviors and social skills of their children. Studies have also shown that children exhibiting negative behavior and social skills all too often maintain their maladaptive behavior through their development into adulthood. As such it seems to me that the focus now needs to be shifted from the cause of unhealthy behaviors in children to the prevention of the development of these behaviors.Rather than keeping our heads stuck in the old medical model of treating the symptom once the disease has been contracted, the field of psychology needs to develop strategies of prevention. Developing methods to assist in preventing unhealthy behaviors in childhood is necessary for the well being of future generations which includes my two young sons.
Resume OBJECTIVE: To obtain acceptance into Argosy University’s Forensic Psychology Masters program to further my goal of developing and implementing measures to prevent juvenile and consequently adult criminal behaviors. EDUCATION: May 2008 Argosy University Online To National October 2009 BA, Psychology, Criminal Justice, GPA: 4.0
September 1985 Montclair University To Montclair, NJ January 1992 BA, English, Psychology Minor, GPA: 3.2 EMPLOYMENT HISTORY October 1998 Office/Accounts manager/Chiropractic Assistant To Family Chiropractic Center of Lake Hopatcong April 2008 Lake Hopatcong, NJ
Oversaw office functioning, maintained accounts payables/receivables, maintained patient files, coordinated vendor contacts, reviewed vendor contracts, negotiated with vendors for reduced fees. Created, implemented and maintained patient privacy practices; Organized and coordinated office construction and relocation Researched and upgraded office technology and patient recordkeeping systems
Resume cont. EMPLOYMENT HISTORY cont. June 1994 Executive Assistant to COO/CFO To J.B. Hanauer & Co. June 1998 Parsippany, NJ Maintained employee policy and procedures manual, organized and ordered supplies, assisted in the creation/relocation of two branches, reviewed and corrected detailed commission reports, assisted in the maintenance of client accounts, assisted in assigning responsibility of accounts payable break downs to all branches.
September 1991 Thermography/Surface EMG Technician/Office Manager To Allen Chiropractic Office May 1994 Livingston, NJ Oversaw office functioning, performed thermography scans, performed surface EMG’s, maintained accounts payables/receivables, upgraded and maintained patient files, maintained office and patient policies, researched and upgraded patient records system as well as office technology.
June 1987 Life Guard To Lake Adventure summer camp August 1990 Lords Valley, PA
Resume cont. EMPLOYMENT HISTORY cont. September 1987 Nanny To Dr.’s Levine June 1990 Montclair, NJ
September 1985 Dental assistant To Dr. Herman Cooper February 1987
2009 President/CEO and web master for Chiari’s Angels Foundation Owner/operator in home registered day care service
Word 2007 Adobe Acrobat Microsoft Excel Microsoft Power Point Web design/Joomla format
Table of Contents Critical Thinking Examples of my work A Philosophy of Inertia - April 12, 2009 Community Intervention - June 29, 2009 The Death Penalty Dilemma Facing Americans Today: Where Do You Stand? February 16, 2009 Comparison of Freudian and Skinnerian Theories March 7, 2009 Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle: August 16, 2008
Critical Thinking A Philosophy of Inertia A Philosophy of Inertia When considering the current conditions of our criminal justice system one would have to agree that the current policies are insufficient to decrease or contain crime. Our policies appear to be firmly rooted in out dated, unsubstantiated deterrence based theories which hold the belief that human beings are hedonistic and that the fear of punishment is enough to outweigh the need for survival (Brown, Esbensen, & Geis, 2007). Statistics have shown that the ultimate punishment, death, does not prove to be a deterrent but only serves to reinforce the outdated and barbaric behaviors of an eye for an eye justice (Argosy, Death Penalty, 2009 p. 3). Crime rates have not decreased in states where the death penalty is still accepted in contrary, crime rates are higher in these states. The state of Texas, listed as the second most populated state and still has the death penalty is listed by the FBI crime statistics to possess the 8th highest crime rate (The Disaster Center, 2008, TX). New York, listed as the third most populated state, where there is no death penalty is listed as having the 39th highest crime rate (The Disaster Center, 2008, NY). Perhaps by sanctioning the death of a human being through what is called justice, individuals within these states have become desensitized to the value of human life and murder out of their own sense of justice. How is it that we as human beings can condemn the taking of a human life by another but still condone the taking of a life by an institution? When sentencing an individual to death we have made the determination that the individual deserves to die. This is the same decision that has been reached and justified in the minds of murderers. How are we as a nation any less criminal? The concrete evidence is not enough to convince the majority that it is time for a change because it is the human emotions, fear, pain, anger, that drive the social policies aimed at controlling crime rather than the human gifts of logic and reason. The American culture is individualistic by nature and as such, rather than look for ways to prevent or correct the causes of crime on a macro level, our systems and policies focus on the micro level; the individual. The time has come for a change in policy; for a change in how the crime is ratified. Elliott Currie proposed that crime needs to be addressed with social change as opposed to using behavioral consequence; focusing on the cause rather than the affect (Brown, et al., 2007). This theory was introduced over twenty years ago and has all but been ignored. Currie recommended programs to improve living conditions, offer more employment opportunities and decrease the gap in the social status which, through research has been proven to reduce crime (National Hire Network, 2008). When the United States experienced the lowest level of unemployment, we also experienced the lowest level of crime (Justice Policy Institute, 2007). This cannot be ignored. As our economy falters, our crime rates will increase. As such the time is now to implement new strategies and to let go of old, misguided and failing policies. It is time to focus on logic, facts, and reason to guide us toward understanding and preventing crime rather than sentiment. We have allowed the public’s emotional outcries which are based upon short term revenge and punishment to determine policies and guide procedures towards a long term solution. We have continually patched the cracks in the walls of crime when what we should be doing is repairing the very foundation.
Critical Thinking cont.A Philosophy of Inertia References A Philosophy of Inertia References: Argosy Online Lecture. (2009) Psychology and Criminal Justice: Module 6: Death Penalty. Retrieved on February 13, 2009 from http://myeclassonline.com/ Brown, S.E., Esbensen, F & Geis, G. (2007) Criminology: Explaining Crime and Its Context, (6th ed.). Matthew Bender, & Co. Cincinnati, OH Justice Policy Institute. (2007) Employment Wages and Public Safety. Retrieved on April 9, 2009from http://www.justicepolicy.org National Hire Network (2008) National Blueprint for Recovery. Retrieved on April 9, 2009 from http://www.hirenetwork.org/ The Disaster Center (2008) Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports: New York Crime Rates 1960 – 2007 Retrieved on April 12, 2009 from http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/nycrime.htm The Disaster Center (2008) Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports: Texas Crime Rates 1960-2007 Retrieved on April 12, 2009 from http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/txcrime.htm
Critical Thinking cont.Community Intervention Community Intervention Neighbors’ coming together in a united front is the first and perhaps the most important step to for community intervention and neighborhood improvement. “Properly put together, with a chairperson and a full quorum of members, a resident’s association has real strength” (Community Group, 2009). Goals and aspirations need to be continually reviewed among all community members gaining as much insight and ideas as possible to allow for cultural and social differences. While it is very important to remain in contact with one another, it is also very important to continue to recruit more community members to participate in the effort to make the neighborhood safe. As such, my first recommendation would be to distribute flyers or brochures by mail as well as leaving them at local businesses outlining your goals and concerns as well as stating your desire for full community participation and more valuable input from all cultures, age groups and religious groups. While you are visiting your local business, you can also explain your goals to the business owners. Since business owners will benefit financially from a safer neighborhood, you should be able to recruit their participation as well.
“A resident’s association can be recognized as a body by the city council, and it becomes easier to organize fundraisers and other events, including working with the community centre” (Community Group, 2009). As an organization, you can petition the council to begin family events such as movies or concerts under the stars. Many communities already host several nigh time gathering events modeled around National Night Out. Since much of the criminal activity occurs when juveniles are bored, unsupervised and left to their own devices, providing healthy activities for them to participate in during the peak hours of crime has been shown to decrease the crime rate (U.S. Department of Justice, 2000). In order to successfully incorporate these events, it is suggested that several youth from the community representative of all cultures, sex and religion be brought in to share their ideas for fun events.
Critical Thinking cont.Community Intervention pg 2 Organizing a community watch would be the next step to provide a safer community. The local police department should be contacted so that officers can come to a community meeting and discuss the implementation of the program as well as hear the communities concerns. “Neighborhood Watch programs are a good way to improve communication and trust between citizens and police” (America.gov, 2009). The Neighborhood watch program is run by the members in the neighborhood not by the police and as such, community members need to be committed to putting in the time and effort in order for the program to be effective. Communication with police officers will help community members to view officers in a positive light and it will foster a more personal relationship with law enforcement. Hopefully, community members will be less fearful to call police when they witness illegal activities (America.gov, 2009). Another positive aspect of becoming members of neighborhood watch groups, officers will come into meetings and give tips to the community on how to keep your home and family safe such as having proper lighting, locks and motion detectors around your home.
If your community does not have your sports teams, it is recommended that the association petition the council for the formation of such organizations. Local businesses, police departments, fired departments and schools can also be contacted to see if they will support your efforts. The school should already have programs implemented teaching the communities youth personal street safety, self control, anger management and “say no to drugs” programs. If they do not, the PTA needs to take action and confront the school board for the immediate implementation of such programs. There are numerous resources on the internet, in local libraries as well as in other townships to help with the formation of such programs.
As a final sign of togetherness and strength, weekly neighborhood cleanup projects can be organized utilizing the residents, local businesses and the youth who can help plant new trees along the streets and clean up any garbage and graffiti so that the area becomes less attractive to criminals. By reclaiming and cleaning an abandoned park or playground, eliminating tall weeds and debris from a vacant lot, or sprucing up sidewalks and public spaces along the street, you will be making the community safer and of course much more attractive to community members (U.S. Department of Justice, 1999).
Critical Thinking cont.Community Intervention References Community Intervention References: America.gov (2009). Neighborhood Watch Programs Help Build Citizen-Police Trust. Retrieved on June 29, 2009 from http://www.america.gov/st/hrenglish/2009/March/20090310105536ajesrom0.331402. html#ixzz0JqvFO4Wd&D
Community Group (2009). Community Activism. Retrieved on June 28, 2009 from http://www.communitygroup.co.uk/community-activism.html
Community Group (2009). Reducing Community Crime. Retrieved on June 28, 2009 from http://www.communitygroup.co.uk/reducing-community-crime.html
U.S. Department of Justice (2000) National Night Out: Building Police and Community Partnerships To Prevent Crime. Retrieved on June 29, 2009 from http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/180775.pdf
U.S. Department of Justice (1999) National Youth Network: Community Clean Up. Retrieved on June 29, 2009 from http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/171690.pdf
Critical Thinking cont. Comparison of Freudian and Skinnerian Theories Comparison of Freudian and Skinnerian Theories Comparison of Freudian and Skinnerian Theories References: Argosy Online Lecture. (2009) Crime and Cause PSY 493 Mod 3: The Psychodynamic Perspective. Retrieved on March 19, 2009 from http://myeclassonline.com/
Corey, G.R. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (8th Edition). Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Critical Thinking cont.The Death Penalty Dilemma Facing Americans Today: Where Do You Stand? The Death Penalty Dilemma Facing Americans Today: Where Do You Stand? “Aggravated murder is the only crime punishable by death. It includes murder for hire, murder of more than one person, murder of a police officer, murder of a child, and murder during the commission of another felony. Under federal law, capital crimes include engaging in treason and espionage, murdering a government official, using a weapon of mass destruction, and sending bombs or other lethal weapons through the U.S. mail” (Argosy, Death Penalty, 2009, p. 1). Thirty eight states still utilize the death penalty however, “in the U.S., less than 1 percent of murderers are executed” (Argosy, Death Penalty, 2009, p. 1). In 1995, nearly three thousand inmates were still waiting on death row (Answers.com, 2009) and the cost of executing a death row inmate is three to six times as much as incarcerating him or her for life without parole. Proponents of the death penalty believe that “the execution of convicted murderers deter others from committing murder for fear that they will also be executed, and also that murderers will be incapacitated: once dead, they will have no opportunity to commit additional murders” (Argosy, Death Penalty, 2009 p. 4). However, “there is no evidence that capital punishment suppresses the murder rate. In fact, states that impose the death penalty have significantly higher murder rates than states without it” (Argosy, Death Penalty, 2009 p. 3). Also, studies have shown that there is a rise in violent crimes in the days following an execution (Schmalleger, 2009). Murderers do not believe they will be put to death nor do they weigh the pros and cons of committing murder. Thus there is strong support suggesting that the usage of the death sentence as a deterrent has failed.
Critical Thinking cont.The Death Penalty Dilemma Facing Americans Today: Where Do You Stand? p2 The Death Penalty Dilemma Facing Americans Today: Where Do You Stand? Pg 2 The financial costs of continuing the usage of the death sentence is overwhelming. Proponents believe “the death penalty is a cost-effective alternative to life imprisonment or that death penalty costs could be lowered by restricting appeals” (Argosy, Death Penalty, 2009 p. 4). However, appeals have already been restricted and the costs are still excessive. For example, “the death penalty costs north Carolina $2.16 million per execution over the costs of a non-death penalty murder case with a sentence of imprisonment for life” (DIPC as citied in Schmalleger, 2009, p. 416). The costs to New Jersey taxpayers of maintaining facilities for inmates sentenced to death without carrying out an execution was $253 million dollars. Thus taxpayers’ money has been spent on higher security, prosecutorial fees and legal defense teams, such as public defenders, without one sentence being fulfilled. Although many believe the death penalty should be utilized, these same individuals do not feel they could be responsible for condemning an individual to death. Perhaps this view is due to the more recently used DNA testing in appeals cases. “Between 1973 and 1995, 68 percent of death sentences were reversed because of serious errors during trial. When retried, 82 percent were given a punishment less than death, and 7 percent were found not guilty” (Argosy, Death Penalty, 2009, p. 3). Argosy, 2009, cited the causes of these errors including incompetent defense lawyers, faulty or misleading jury instructions, and prosecutorial misconduct. Proponents of the death penalty believe “there are sufficient safeguards against executing persons and that the danger of executing the innocent is small.” (Argosy, Death Penalty, 2009 p. 4) A growing opinion among individuals interviewed is that the cost of executing even one innocent person outweighs any perceived benefit of the death penalty. Yet despite the many controversies surrounding the use of the death penalty, there is still a slight majority of Americans who support its use; neither I nor the individuals I interviewed are among them. Where do you stand?
Critical Thinking cont.The Death Penalty Dilemma Facing Americans Today: Where Do You Stand? Reference The Death Penalty Dilemma Facing Americans Today: Where Do You Stand? Reference Answers.com. (2009). Law Encyclopedia: Capital Punishment. Retrieved on February 16, 2009 from http://www.answers.com/topic/capital-punishment Argosy Online Lecture. (2009). Psychology and Criminal Justice: Module 6: Death Penalty. Retrieved on February 13, 2009 from http://myeclassonline.com Schmalleger, F. (2009). Criminal Justice Today: An Introductory Text for the 21st Century, (10th ed.) Pearson, Prentice Hall.
Critical Thinking cont. Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle Introduction
Stem cell research is over 20 years old and we still have not seen the benefits of this remarkable discovery. In 1998 scientists were able to identify and isolate human stem cells. Stem cells can be found in fetal tissues from abortions, living humans, umbilical cords, cadavers and embryos. Research has been slowed due to interference by governing bodies that hold the belief that embryonic stem cell research benefits from the destruction of a human life. However, the majority of research is done utilizing donated fertilized eggs from fertility clinics. The majority of embryos are not from an abortion; no heart beat that was stopped, no brain function that was terminated, thus there was no human life that was lost. In studying the process through which embryonic stem cells are obtained, I remain dumbfounded as to how interference from any group could continue. Whether fertilized eggs are used for stem cell research or whether they are destroyed is the decision of the donor and should not be regulated by governing bodies. The new development of reprogramming skin cells into pluripotent stem cells holds a new promise of eliminating a large part of the ethical debate involving embryonic stem cell research; however this technology is not yet advanced enough to justify discontinuing the use of embryonic stem cells. The benefits of stem cell therapy outweigh the ethical issues attached to its continued usage and development however, due to political intervention being driven by the personal beliefs of those who are now in the minority, we may never come to realize the comprehensive capabilities of this remarkable technology.
Critical Thinking cont.Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle p2 “Government spending has expanded to 44.9 percent of total health care spending in the United States over the past three decades." (Hagist, 2006, p. 3) In my opinion, the financial benefits to utilizing stem cell therapies are immeasurable. Not to mention the financial benefits to the families of afflicted individuals. Our government is paying for the maintenance and care of disabled individuals who can potentially regain the ability to become contributing members of society with the application of stem cell therapy. Our current system of SSI disability benefits pays more to households than social security. Also, the amount of Medicare payouts to hospitals and doctors for the continued care of people who could benefit from stem cell therapies are astronomical. “If current trends hold in the United States, by 2050 government health care spending will claim one-third of GDP (gross domestic product).” (Hagist, 2006, p. 1) It is time to implement more affordable therapies to change the direction of the health care financial crisis. Stem cell therapy has the potential to become one of these more affordable therapies. A survey completed in September 2005 concluded that 67% of Americans now approve of embryonic stem cell research (WebMD Health News, 2005) and “a recent ABCNews/Beliefnet poll has shown that Americans support stem cell research by a 2-1 margin and say that it should be funded by the federal government” (Pecorino, 2001). If our honorable leaders, (and I use this term loosely), are motivated by financial incentives or voters interests, If our honorable leaders, are motivated by financial incentives or voters interests, this argument alone should be enough to motivate the acceptance and approval of stem cell research beyond the extreme limits that have already been placed upon research facilities.
Critical Thinking cont.Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle p3 “On August 9th, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that federal funds may be awarded for research using human embryonic stem cells if the following criteria are met: The derivation process (which begins with the destruction of the embryo) was initiated prior to 9:00 P.M. EDT on August 9, 2001. The stem cells must have been derived from an embryo that was created for reproductive purposes and was no longer needed. Informed consent must have been obtained for the donation of the embryo and that donation must not have involved financial inducements.” (Stem Cell Basics, Federal Policy 2006) The above limitations have left the scientific community with approximately 21 registered cell lines eligible for federal funding.(Stem Cell Basics, 2006) There were more of these lines at the onset of registration, but the nature of science has proved to be challenging as some cells failed to expand into undifferentiated cell cultures. The limited number of cell lines available also limits the types of patient profiles eligible for implantation. The body reacts to implanted stem cells as is does donated organs. Stem cells can be rejected by the recipient causing infection and risking the
Critical Thinking cont.Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle p4 patient’s life; thus it is necessary to obtain as close a match as possible to increase the chances for success. (Pecorino, 2001) Limiting the number of cells lines limits the number of match’s that can be made thereby limiting the number of people that can benefit.
Another available source for stem cells are umbilical cord stem cells. Although their potential is not as great as embryonic stem cells, umbilical cord stem cells are more beneficial than adult stem cells. “In laboratory analyses, these cells were found to have higher proliferative responses (indicating a higher engraftment potential) than similar doses of adult marrow” (Meyer, 2005, p. 126). There is also a decreased risk of rejection or infection from umbilical cord stem cells “because of their minimal previous exposure to antigens” (Meyer, 2005, p. 126). Today, there are umbilical cord storage banks located all over the world. Some of these banks are privately funded storing the cells for specific people for possible use in the future. Other storage banks are open to donations and do not “save” the cells for any specific person. Although the concentration of cells is lower than that of bone marrow cells, the procedure for their application, as with embryonic stem cells, is non-invasive; thus recipient recovery time and the risk of infection is decreased. There are currently companies wooing hospitals and doctors into partnering with them to develop stem cell banks from umbilical cord blood willingly donated by new parents. The important word here is willingly. One such company, “DomaniCell charges hospitals a maximum one-time fee of $45,000 to partner with it under a co-marketing agreement. DomaniCell’s president,
Critical Thinking cont.Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle p5 Dennis Fallen, would not disclose how cord-blood revenues are split, but says that sales are shared on a per-transaction basis. The company pays doctors a minimum of $125 for each cord-blood procedure, but the final amount they are paid is up to the hospitals, he says” (Gaudio, 2008, p. 14). This certainly raises the question as to how a doctor or hospital will explain and sell the procedure to expectant parents. In a time when the cost of malpractice insurance, coupled with the minimal payout from managed care insurance companies, has put a huge dent in hospitals’ and doctors’ revenue, excess pressure may be placed on parents to participate in the practice of harvesting stem cells for their child’s future. If we were to look at only one hospital for example, Hackensack University Medical Center located in Essex County New Jersey, the network of private-practice physicians who are affiliated with Hackensack University Medical Center are marketing the service to expectant parents. “The center delivers about 5,000 babies per year, with around 15 to 20 percent of those opting for cord-blood collection” (Gaudio, 2008 p. 15), and the charge for the collection of the stem cells is $1700, giving the hospital and doctors an extra $1,700,000 a year to divide as contracted. This does not include the $115 collection and storage charges the parents would have to pay per year following the $1,750 enrolment fee to the storage facility.(Gaudio, 2008) Considering the current parental participation rate and the $45,000 partnership fee paid by the hospital, the storage company stands to make upwards of $3,865,000 for one year of partnership with one hospital where there are only 1000 participating parents. This comes to roughly $3740 (after the doctor fee is paid) per collection charge from the storage facility. The total charges for one year, for one hospital, for only 1000 collections of cord cells, is $5,565,000. As the numbers show, there is certainly enough financial incentive for hospitals and doctors to over sell and
Critical Thinking cont. Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle p6 to over sell and pressure expectant parents by telling them their unborn child’s future health may be at risk. It is believed that “cord-blood companies that charge for storing stem cells take advantage of soon-to-be parents' worst fears and offer something they will probably never use”( Gaudio, 2008 p. 15) Doctors and hospitals are capable of the same unethical behavior. Concerns with the issue of greed in regards to the behaviors of all interested parties are valid; however these concerns do not provide the grounds to deem stem cell research ethically wrong. Greed is an issue that the human race has faced and fought throughout recorded history.
The ethical concerns associated with the selfish quest of fortune and fame as it applies to stem cell research continues with what some believe to be the exploitation of resources. Some stem cell research is performed on cloned embryos obtained from donated eggs and sperm. The United States government, The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and many ethicists agree it is ideal that eggs be obtained voluntarily and without any payment to the donors to ensure that these women not feel coerced to undergo the egg-retrieval procedure, which carries a small chance of serious ill effects. (Weiss, 2005) However, this has not stopped the unethical collection of eggs. A South Korean team has already been found to have violated this practice while it was also falsifying data. The scientist in charge “admitted, despite earlier denials, that he violated ethical guidelines in collecting human eggs for his research” (Genetic Crossroads, 2005). The team had paid women approximately $1500 each for their participation (Weiss, 2005). When these women were interviewed, they admitted “that they agreed to provide eggs because they were in dire financial straits; two of them said they had not been fully informed about the potential risks” (Genetic
Critical Thinking cont. Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle p7 Crossroads, 2005) It was also discovered that two members of the research team had donated their eggs for this experiment, and it could not be ruled out that they were not coerced to do so. They may very well have been pressured by other team members or felt they needed to do so in order to remain a member of the team. Korean feminist magazine editor Cho Yi Yeo Wool, summed up this issue with her comment“The campaign to collect eggs is grotesque and bizarre... Is a human egg some kind of gold trinket or mineral that you can dig out from a mountainside?” (Weiss, 2005).The unethical behavior exhibited by this South Korean team is an example of how the pursuit of fame and power can cloud judgment. Scientists who maintain high ethical standards are in the majority. I have great faith that the scientists possessing integrity will continue to police the scientific community as they did in the case of this research team.
Embryonic stem cells are a necessity for the continued growth of stem cell therapies. Embryonic stem cells can become any cell in the human body. Embryos, in particular, can provide an endless supply of stem cells, and they are regenerative thus they can be used as a live source of self-repair (Pecorino, 2001). Embryonic stem cells are easily available and can be obtained from donations from fertility clinics. “Embryonic stem cells proliferate for a year or more in the laboratory without differentiating, but most adult stem cells cannot.”(Stem Cell Basics, 2006) Thus, the potential applications for embryonic stem cells are much greater than those obtainable from adult or cadaver stem cells. “The adult tissues reported to contain stem cells include brain, bone marrow, peripheral blood, blood vessels, skeletal muscle, skin and liver.” (Stem Cell Basics, 2006) Invasive
Critical Thinking cont. Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle p8 Invasive procedures are necessary to obtain these cells after which they need to be cultivated in labs; thus treatment is delayed. Also, adult stem cells carry the risk of containing the “genetic mutations for disease or of becoming defective during experimentation” (Pecorino, 2001). If embryonic stem cells were available, the treatment could begin sooner, with no risk of genetic mutations and the results could be the difference between success and failure; it could mean life or death. “Diseases that might be treated by transplanting cells generated from human embryonic stem cells include Parkinson's disease, diabetes, traumatic spinal cord injury, Purkinje cell degeneration, Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, heart disease, and vision and hearing loss.” (Stem Cell Basics, 2006) More recent promising studies are focusing on the effectiveness of stem cell therapies in the battle against cancer.
Embryonic stem cell research utilizes “embryos that develop from eggs that have been fertilized in vitro, in an in vitro fertilization clinic, and then donated for research purposes with informed consent of the donors. They are not derived from eggs fertilized in a woman's body” (Stem Cell Basics, 2006) or from aborted fetuses. I am in agreement with proponents who have argued that these donated embryos or zygotes are not viable living organisms and do not have the capacity to become a living organism, and thus there is no ethical dilemma. Opponents to embryonic stem cell research believe that once fertilization takes place, the zygote is a living entity possessing the capacity to change itself. ( Bioethics, 2007) Opponents believe “the difference can be illustrated by comparing two gametes in isolation (one sperm cell and one egg cell) with the entity that is formed
Critical Thinking cont. Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle p9 when they fuse. The two separate gametes have passive potentialities to become a baby. As long as they are separate or have merely passive potentialities, they cannot develop into a baby. By interacting with each other, their passive potentialities become an active potentiality, and a new life starts as a unified organism. (Bioethics, 2007 p. 272) Opponents also argue that “for the most part, uncontroversial among the scientific and philosophical community that life begins at the moment when the genetic information contained in the sperm and ovum combine to form a genetically unique cell (Bioethics, 2007, p. 271).
What exactly is the definition of life? There are some that propose life is the ability to change or grow as an individual without outside influence. Opponents argue that according to this definition, an embryo is an individual beginning “from the moment when two gametes enter into contact with each other and start preparing syngamy, for example by making the zonapellucida impenetrable for other sperm. Thus, an embryo’s individuality starts before (s)he has gained his or her genetic identity as sperm and ovum start to interact before syngamy, thereby becoming a new entity” (Bioethics, 2007 p. 281). However I must argue that without outside influence, (implantation into a womb), these embryos will not continue to grow and change into a viable human life and therefore do not fit into the aforementioned definition of life. Is life the existence of a self sustaining, self sufficient entity? If we accept this definition, then we must agree with Robert George that there are people in hospitals and clinics that could be used for experimental procedures because they cannot support themselves nor sustain their lives without machines and medicine; we can add infants, toddlers, dependent senior citizens as well.
Critical Thinking cont. Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle p10 “So it cannot be the case that some human beings and not others are intrinsically valuable by virtue of a certain degree of development. Rather, all human beings are intrinsically valuable (in the way that enables us to ascribe to them equality and basic rights) because of the kind of being they are.” (George, 2008) I am in agreement with proponents and argue that there is no guarantee that this blastocyst will go on to produce a viable human and could stop developing at any time and thus fail to become a human life. Jan Deckers argues this point by stating “I may die any moment, yet most readers, I hope, would agree that this does not give you a license to kill me. If the sheer fact that I may die at any moment does not provide a good justification why the killing of me should be acceptable, then why should this be different with regard to embryos? (Bioethics, 2007, p. 281)” Deckers argument holds no merit. Embryos are not cognizant human beings. These embryos are clusters of cells holding the potential to become human beings. Without the consent of those who donated the egg and sperm, these clusters of cells will not become a human life. Although I understand the arguments presented by Jan Deckers and Robert George, they are not accurate in their comparison of undeveloped embryos with a viable human life. Fertilized eggs are not self sustaining human entities. Without implantation and acceptance into a womb, they will not become a viable human life. Infants, toddlers and dependent senior citizens are self sustaining in that their cells and organs will continue to function and regenerate through their brains’ continued communication with their body’s systems and organs. I believe that human beings who are connected to machines with no brain function are no longer living human beings.
Critical Thinking cont. Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle p11 Without the assistance of machines, they can no longer sustain their existence. As I reflect upon my family’s decision to remove my father from the machines that were keeping his cells functioning, I conclude that that which makes us human, the ability to reason, feeling, and comprehension, are all absent in a body void of brain function; thus humanness is no longer present.
In the United States, fertilized eggs which are small clusters of cells incapable of independently becoming a human life and void of brain function, are legally considered the property of the perspective parents. Just as the next of kin or assigned guardian has the right to remove a body void of brain function from the machines responsible for maintaining the bodily functions, the choice to donate fertilized eggs to research for the development of stem lines or to destroy them lies solely with the legal guardians of the eggs; it is a deeply personal decision. Our governing bodies have no right to interfere, and neither do we.
Critical Thinking cont. Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle p12 Conclusion
In my opinion, the benefits of utilizing embryonic stem cell therapies far outweigh the arguments in opposition. The embryonic stem cells are not living human beings and were donated to research willingly by the lawful owners who chose to donate them rather than have them destroyed. Scientific advances in stem cell research should not be denied or rejected out of fear of human greed or immorality. As with any new discovery there will be those who will abuse it. As there is balance in the natural world, there is balance in the human world. We will discover magnificence and we will witness horror. The discovery of harnessing electricity gave us light, computers, and life saving machinery; it also gave us life ending electric chairs. The discovery of the atom has provided invaluable scientific information; man produced the atom bomb. Should we then have denied the usage or application of these remarkable discoveries? Absolutely Not! I have developed a greater understanding and respect for the opposing arguments; however it is my opinion that stem cell research and therapy are necessary steps for the advancement of medicine and science and finally, for the betterment of humankind.
Critical Thinking cont. Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle Reference Stem Cell Therapy: Ethically Wrong or a Scientific Miracle Reference: Bioethics; Jun2007, Vol. 21 Issue 5, p270-282, 13p Deckers, Jan, Why Eberl is Wrong. Reflections on the Beginning of Personhood, Retrieved July 15, 2008, from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=24826299&site=ehost-live
Christian Hagist and Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 2006, Health Care Spending: What the Future Will Look Like, National Center for Policy Analysis, Retrieved on July 23, 2008, from: http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st/st286/index.html
Gaudio, Thomas, njbiz; Collecting StemCells for Profit 10/23/2006, Vol. 19 Issue 43, p1-15, 3p Retrieved on July 15, 2008, from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bwh&AN=22983994&site=ehost-live
Genetic Crossroads, “Faked data, unethical egg procurement, cover-ups, lies: Stem cell and cloning scandal highlights need for real regulation” December 15th, 2005, Center for Genetics and Society Retrieved July 30, 2008 from: http://www.geneticsandsociety.org/article.php?id=2644
George, Robert P. "Embryo ethics." Daedalus. 1 2008. 23. eLibrary. Proquest CSA. LIBRARY AND INFO RESOURCES NETWORK (LIRN). 29 Jul 2008. <http://elibrary.bigchalk.com>.
Meyer, Emily Ann, (Editor), 2005. Cord Blood: Establishing a National Hematopoietic Stem Cell Bank Program.Washington, DC, USA: National Academies Press, Retrieved on July 22, 2006 from: http://site.ebrary.com/lib/argosy/Doc?id=10160726&ppg=126
Lauren Pecorino, 2001, Stem Cells for Cell-Based Therapies, An ActionBioscience.org original article (2001) Retrieved on July 7, 2008 from: http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/pecorino2.html#learnmore
Stem Cell Basics: Introduction. In Stem Cell Information [World Wide Web site]. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006 Retrieved July 07, 2008 from: http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/basics1>
WebMD Health News 2005, Miranda Hitti, Survey: Most OK Embryonic Stem Cell Research Retrieved August 9, 2008 from: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/51457
Weiss, Rick, 2005, “S. Korean Stem Cell Team Paid Women for Eggs” November 22, 2005 Washington Post, Center for Genetics and Society, Retrieved July 30, 2008, from: http://www.geneticsandsociety.org/article.php?id=1745
University of California - Los Angeles (2008, February 12). Human Skin Cells Reprogrammed Into Embryonic Stem Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 5, 2008, from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080211172631.htm
My Future in Learning As human beings we need to continually learn through life. As a psychologist, it is even more important to study and learn as new theories and findings will continue to present themselves. As social dynamics change, so must we. In our ever changing world, cultures are continuing to integrate in an effort to live and work side by side; new challenges will be faced and new problems will arise. In order to meet these challenges, we must continually seek out the solutions to these problems. Continuing to expand our minds is not only a professional responsibility, it is the responsibility of us all.
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