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The Stem Cell Debate is Not About Medical Benefits Essay

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In the final analysis, the debate about embryonic stem cell research is not primarily about medical benefits.

In his great novel The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky raised the question whether it would be right to build a world without human suffering if "it was essential and inevitable to torture to death one tiny creature" such as an innocent child to achieve that end. Each of us must answer that ultimate question in the depths of his or her own conscience. The claim that destructive embryo research will achieve such a utopian end is, we believe, a hollow promise. In the meantime, however, the killing will be quite real.

We hope that you will consider these reflections and  agree that our government should not support research that relies on the destruction of innocent human beings.

Most Christians have grave concerns on this critically important issue of embryonic stem cell research. In our view, conducting research that relies on deliberate destruction of human embryos for their stem cells is illegal, immoral and unnecessary.

It is illegal because it violates an appropriations rider (the Dickey amendment) passed every year since 1995 by Congress. That provision forbids funding "research in which" human embryos (whether initially created for research purposes or not) are harmed or destroyed outside the womb.(1) National Institutes of Health guidelines approved by the Clinton Administration nonetheless give researchers detailed instructions on how to obtain human embryos for destructive cell harvesting, if they wish to qualify for federal grants in "human pluripotent stem cell research."(2) Clearly, obtaining and destroying embryos is an integral part of this project, even if the specific act of destroying emb...


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...eficiency (SCID)-X1 Disease," 288 Science 669-72 (28 April 2000).



16. K. Foss, "Paraplegic regains movement after cell procedure," The Globe and Mail (Toronto), June 15, 2001 at A1.



17. E. Ryan et al., "Glycemic Outcome Post Islet Transplantation," Abstract #33-LB, Annual Meeting of the American Diabetes Association, June 24, 2001. See: http://38.204.37.95/am01/AnnualMeeting/Abstracts/NumberResults.asp?idAbs=33-LB.



18. M. McCullough, "Islet transplants offer hope that diabetes can be cured," Philadelphia Inquirer, June 22, 2001 at A1.



19. D. Woodbury et al., "Adult Rat and Human Bone Marrow Stromal Cells Differentiate Into Neurons," 61 J. of Neuroscience Research 364-70 (2000) at 364 (emphasis added).



20. D. Prockop, "Stem Cell Research Has Only Just Begun" (Letter), 293 Science 211-2 (13 July 2001)(citations omitted).



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