Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 08, 2006

End the obstacles to stem cell work

The time for decision is very close in Annapolis for the Maryland Stem Cell Research Act ("Stem cell advances," editorial, March 6).

There are those who say that further research using embryonic stem cells is not necessary. They are wrong.

It is only when we finally allow embryonic stem cell research to continue unhampered - financially and politically - that we will see the medical breakthroughs it promises, which might give a far better life to those who suffer from severe illnesses or injuries.

There are those who oppose this research because it causes the destruction of a human embryo - or actually a fertilized egg, left by couples who used them to try to achieve pregnancy but no longer need them.

To those people, I ask this question: What will happen to these frozen, fertilized eggs if they are not used for research or adopted?

They will be thawed and then ignominiously discarded by being dumped in the trash.

Using these fertilized eggs for research is certainly a better choice than merely throwing them away.

I have a nephew with Parkinson's disease, and I want the opportunity to sit in church and see him walk his daughters down the aisle at their weddings and see them dance together at the reception.

I truly believe that this will happen if we encourage stem cell research in Maryland.

John Ray

Baltimore

Adult stem cells offer ethical option

Do the people pushing embryonic stem cell research deliberately blur the distinction between it and adult stem cell research? Or is that the media are just too lazy, when writing headlines and articles on stem cell research, to make the difference clear?

Both often make it seem that people opposed to embryonic research are opposed to all stem cell research. That is not the case. Most who oppose embryonic stem cell research heartily support adult stem cell research.

The personal stories being told to push for embryonic stem cell research also seek to paint opponents of embryonic research as uncaring about the suffering of others ("Stem cell debate hits home," March 1). That is not the case.

Opponents of such research have great concern for the way our society fails to value all human life, and the suffering this causes in the world today.

Put it this way: Suppose for every person you wanted to cure of a serious disease, you had to kill a 1-year-old baby. But wait: The cure is not certain, but only a hope, a possibility.

Either way, it would be called murder.

Please don't say that this research is different, that an embryo is not human. This is emotion ignoring science and logic.

Science tells us that a fertilized human egg, if given everything normally needed for survival, will become a relative, a friend, perhaps a neighbor, but certainly a human being.

Logic says that if killing a 1-year-old, a 20-year-old or an 80-year-old is murder, then killing a human anywhere on its living timeline is murder.

"The end justifies the means" is an excuse frequently used these days. It is ethically flawed. You are trying to produce good by committing evil.

The bottom line here is: Will we choose a good that demands an evil to obtain it?

And how good is that?

David N. Peterson

Churchville

Use of adult cells a much better bet

Using millions of taxpayers' dollars, our representatives in Annapolis are placing bets on stem cell research. The question facing them is which kind of research - embryonic stem cell research or adult stem cell research - they should invest in.

We are told that embryonic stem cell research has tremendous promise, but its promised cures are decades or more away. It has yet cured no one.

The House has placed its bet on this kind of research ("House OKs stem cell funding," March 4).

On the other hand, adult stem cell research holds equal promise and has already effected many cures, and such cures are continuing.

Should our representatives bet on a manned trip to Mars or a manned trip to Miami? The answer is obvious.

We should ask them to be practical and bet our taxpayers' money on adult stem cell research.

Charles Scheve

Towson

Antietam no excuse for deaths in Iraq

Brian C. Jones should at least get a few basic things straight if he intends to use history to make a political point ("Dying in the cause of freedom and liberty, then and now," Opinion * Commentary, March 2).

Twenty-two thousand men did not die at the Battle of Antietam.

We can never know the exact figure, but the National Park Service estimates it to have been about 3,650 on the field with perhaps 4,000 more who later succumbed to wounds.

Of course, if Mr. Jones is seeking relief and perspective by comparing the (rising) number of dead from this war in Iraq to those of previous wars, he might consider that we now have lost in Iraq more men than on D-Day in Normandy (1,465), nearly as many as in the War of 1812 (2,260), and about half the figure for the American Revolutionary War (4,435).

But all of this is not only unseemly but beside the point.

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