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Commentary

Dispute on Stem-Cell Research

July 31, 2004

For a moment I thought Ron Reagan, when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, was talking about my daughter Emma -- who has diabetes too -- as he referred to a 13-year-old young woman who wears an insulin pump decorated with rhinestones who faces serious complications like amputations and blindness. Tears welled up in our eyes. Reagan's speech was poignant and moving. Even Emma's grandmother agreed that he explained this complex issue with simple, savvy language -- and she finally got it as Reagan explained the promise of embryonic stem-cell research.

Reagan illuminated our struggle each and every time we test our daughter's blood sugar, six to eight times a day and in the middle of the night. We wonder if we can ever control this beast called diabetes. If the California Stem Cell Initiative passes this November, maybe our daughter will face a normal life free from worries from complications.

Thank you, thank you, Ron Prescott Reagan.

Carol Eisner

Los Angeles

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It is certainly understandable why Reagan would promote embryonic stem-cell research, given his father's recent death from Alzheimer's disease. However, this research can never be justified despite the potential cures it may lead to for the simple reason that it involves the killing of other humans. Yes, these humans are extremely small and underdeveloped, but they are still human.

Medical research conducted at the expense of the lives of others is morally bankrupt, little different from the Nazi experiments on human guinea pigs in the death camps. Let us instead turn our full attention to adult stem-cell research, which can be pursued without any moral reservations.

Although this field may offer challenges, these should not be insurmountable to a nation that put a man on the moon 35 years ago.

Noel D'Angelo

Thousand Oaks

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It is unconscionable that a religious fringe segment of society can block the potential of stem-cell research to save lives ("Stem-Cell Research Takes Center Stage," July 27). It was only 150 years ago that religious leaders were arguing that anesthetics should not be used for women in childbirth because pain was part of the process prescribed by God as punishment for Eve's transgression in the garden.

Scientific research is based on factual evidence, requiring quantifiable evidence upon which it can be judged and objectively challenged to verify its usefulness. Opinions, on the other hand, are something you hold without the need for justification or proof.

It is a fact that embryonic stem cells have the potential to ease the suffering of human beings and possibly cure many diseases. It is an unverifiable opinion as to whether or not blastocytes have souls.

Stem-cell research will occur somewhere. If we allow our government to block this valuable area of research, then our scientists will move to other countries. The creative economic engine that has made our country strong will further wither on the vine, and the security of our nation will be at risk without knowledgeable scientists working on the cutting-edge areas of this developing science.

Phil Beauchamp

Chino Hills

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The only way that an embryonic stem cell can be "isolated" is via destruction of the embryo. It is no less than a biological fact that all of us, from the moment of conception, are human beings.

To suggest that contending so is merely a matter of religious opinion rather than scientific fact breaches any and all journalistic standards of objectivity.

True, those with deeply held religious convictions do represent the vanguard of the so-called pro-life movement; however, such convictions merely provide the moral impetus behind the demand for recognition of human rights for everyone, including the unborn.

Brent Taylor Stenhouse

Torrance

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