As a physician who sees stem-cell research as the only hope for help with my muscle-wasting disease, I was highly perturbed to read Eric Cohen's diatribe on the subject ("Sen. Kerry's Stem-Cell Fairy Tales," Opinion, Aug. 22).
Laura Bush worries about false hope for people with Alzheimer's disease. Is no hope preferable? The greatest journey must start with the first step. An important principle, I assert, is that no government should be using its great powers to enforce any morality stance that lacks an overwhelming majority of the population's support. Support from a minority, such as Southern evangelical Christians, is totally inadequate.
Cohen speaks of a "convincing ethical argument" without any evident awareness of the elliptical nature of his words. I would ask: "Convincing" to whom? Conviction is in the mind of the convinced.
Fortunately, our president and Cohen do not run the world. If stem-cell research does not move rapidly forward from here, other peoples will move beyond us. The profit motive will be one of the engines. At some time in the future Cohen's ethics will be a totally forgotten thing of the past.
Cohen's support of President Bush's ban on the federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research is simply another chapter in the right wing's war on science, in favor of theological "solutions." To argue, with a straight face, that those clusters of embryonic stem cells are alive and viable, and thus should not be tampered with, seems as absurd as membership in the flat-Earth society. This kind of "thinking" has led to an unprecedented level of American scientists rebuking the current White House for its opposition to empirical data.
Though Sen. John Kerry might have overstated the wonders of embryonic stem-cell investigation, his belief in employing science in our war on disease is a breath of fresh air compared with the current administration.