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Using Embryos for Stem Cell Research

July 15, 2001

"Embryos Created for Stem Cell Research" (July 11) quotes--and fails to challenge--Christopher Reeve's blatantly inaccurate assertion that if human embryos are not "used" for research, they will be indefinitely frozen or thrown away. Abandoned embryos can, have been and are being adopted by infertile couples. Indeed, President Bush has been offered the opportunity to meet three children who were adopted as embryos. Human embryos are children who have the right to live. Fetuses are also children who have the right to live, which means abortion is unacceptable.

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Rose Mary Leon

Northridge

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One has to avoid being trapped in the semantic distortions urged by those opposed to embryonic stem cell research. Recognition is required that a short-term embryo is (1) not a baby (one born and surviving independent of the mother); (2) not a fetus (normally applies to the developed state three months after conception); (3) not a citizen (no provision in the Constitution or law to establish citizenship). Even though Congress is presently fooling around trying to label an embryo a "person," this is purely arbitrary legalese with no fidelity whatsoever to reality and the biological facts.

This whole mystery is quickly unraveled upon pondering the following: Can a thing be what it can only thereafter become, before it does so? Would anyone claim that a pumpkin seed is the same as a pumpkin? Let's get real, wise and practical. Urge the government to fund this promising embryonic stem cell research.

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George V. Hall

Manhattan Beach

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The analogy comparing embryo-destroying stem cell research to "pluck[ing] an eyebrow" (letter, July 9) is poor. "Harvesting" embryos is much like cannibalizing our young; embryos are members of the human family and farming or harvesting them for research is morally reprehensible. Given only time and nourishment, embryos grow to be adults. An eyebrow hair is genetically incapable of doing the same.

Science and technology must be tempered by ethics, otherwise the very thing that separates us from other creatures, our humanity, will be irreparably damaged.

Laura Echevarria

Director, Media Relations

National Right to

Life Committee, Washington

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