Debating Judge Lamberth's stem-cell ruling

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

I am profoundly disappointed in U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth's injunction ["Judge blocks stem cell rules," front page, Aug. 24].

I have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that kills nerve cells called motor neurons and that is eliminating my ability to walk, talk, eat and breathe. In the United States, 25,000 people have ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Most die within two to five years of diagnosis. Of all the types, human embryonic stem cells have the greatest potential to provide building blocks for therapies to treat ALS and a variety of other difficult and devastating conditions. Scientists have created motor neurons from human embryonic stem cells, but the research has not yet been translated into clinical practice -- and will not be ready in my lifetime. It is impossible to know whether the research might have been ready now absent roadblocks placed by the previous presidential administration, but certainly more delays will not help.

The plaintiffs argued that "increased competition for limited federal funding" would make it harder for them to get funding for their research on other kinds of stem cells, and Judge Lamberth agreed that they would probably suffer irreparable harm. But the plaintiffs show a callous disregard for human life, and that is a real irreparable harm to patients with ALS and other diseases.

David M. Diodato, Washington

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President Obama's executive order to lift restrictions on embryonic stem cell research showed a complete disregard for the dignity of human life as well as for U.S. law. Thankfully, Judge Royce C. Lamberth exposed this in his ruling Monday.

Embryonic stem cell research is wrong because it destroys innocent human life by treating vulnerable human beings as mere products to be harvested. To destroy human embryos for research purposes implies that some lives have more value than others and that we may sacrifice some lives today so that future generations will benefit. It is not morally acceptable, however, to do evil hoping that good may result from it. Humans will never benefit from any kind of lethal exploitation.

If the government wants to invest in hope for cures and promote ethically sound science, it should use our tax money for research that everyone, at every stage of human development, can live with. Adult stem cells are now known to have great versatility. To divert scarce funds away from these promising avenues would be a sad victory of politics over science.

Nick Gillstrap, New York


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