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Scientific Discovery Does Not Dictate Choice

July 31, 2001

As a person with young-onset Parkinson's, I've been feeling like a Ping-Pong ball during this dramatic debate on embryonic stem cell research. It was a relief to see Paul Conrad's cartoon and John Balzar's commentary on July 27, which reached the heart of the matter. What science discovers has its own intrinsic value. It's what we do with the genies when they're let out of the bottle that counts.

Fear of change is our natural response. But as a society, we should give ourselves credit for making some good, common-sense choices. My friends' healthy, happy teenage son was once an in vitro embryo, a "miracle baby." My brother's bypass operation makes him the first living, loving grandfather ever in our family, whose men have genetically weak hearts. Who would have thought that cracking open a person's chest would become routine?

Change is not always hard. We've had the sense to heed the warnings of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and we've been alive to cheer the fall of the Berlin Wall and the election of Nelson Mandela. Thirty years ago, who would have thought those things would ever have been possible? Thirty years from now, maybe there won't be any Parkinson's disease.

Mary Yost

Los Angeles

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I agree with all of Balzar's points about the larger ramifications of stem cell research, except his lack of "steam." As an ovarian cancer survivor and now Parkinson's disease prisoner, I'm fighting for an all-out war on disease with what little steam I have left.

I have little hope for a cure in my lifetime, since I'm 65. However, I would like to think that children and younger people will have some hope for a life worth living. Time is not on our side, and we don't have the luxury of Balzar's ho-hum attitude.

Rayilyn Brown

Murrieta, Calif.

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If an embryo created in a petri dish isn't a person, then an adult human grown from that embryo isn't a person either. Thus begins slavery anew.

Douglas Campbell

Culver City

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