Second Opinions

MDNG Primary CareMarch 2009
Volume 11
Issue 3

We recently posted a news brief titled "Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Is it a Question of Science vs. Religion?", along with a more in-depth companion piece that presented perspectives from supporters and opponents of the recent decision to lift the ban on embryonic stem cell research. We also invited readers to post their thoughts and comments, several of which are reprinted here.

To those who chase human embryos-look at yourselves and those of your loved ones and remember we ALL started as embryos. I do not believe that any one of us would look at our children, friends, mothers, fathers or spouses and think it would have been better if they had not been allowed to live, but were instead destroyed for their parts. Think of all the potential that life can bring if we can stop the slaughter of the unborn. We all tend to think that those frozen as embryos are “trash” or that these tiny humans should be used for their parts. There are over EIGHTY cures using ADULT and CORD blood stem cells and NOT ONE using embryonic stem cells. Those who complain that Bush impeded research have not taken into account that the UK has been experimenting on human embryos for years. To date they are developing a rat with increased intelligence using this research. They are also developing animal/human hybrids. In California, they have cloned an embryo. There was also a move to harvest the organs of aborted babies for transplantation in the UK. When will it end?

—Ana Thompson, MD

I feel President Obama is wrong about lifting the ban on federal funds for embryo stem cell research. I feel more research should be done on adult stem cells. I understand that a lot of good is already being done with adult stem cells. I hope and pray that his decision will be overturned.

—Holly Levine, BSN, RN

Embryonic stem cells have the potential to treat diseases like juvenile diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as spinal cord injuries and even in patients with renal failure and cancer. The so-called killing of embryos is overstated by religious conservatives. In the ESC research, the cells used are overproduced in the fertility clinics and will be discarded any way. So, I, as a physician who sees these patients all the time, strongly support embryonic stem cell research.

—S.D. Madduri, MD

There is no question that this ban needed to be lifted a long time ago. The United States will be light years behind other nations in the advancement of stem cell research and we will truly regret it. We cannot deprive those who will benefit from the progress in this field; we owe it to all of us to move forward ethically and efficiently on this vital matter.

—Barbara R. Bellar, MD, JD

Life begins at conception? Really? I guess the ovum and sperm are therefore dead. How fascinating. If sperm and ova are alive and human, then we must make sure that all ova are fertilized, and then we must grieve for the sperm which died. My understanding is that life began (according to National Geographic) about 3.7 billion years ago and has not ever begun again (as far as science knows). Life is a continuum. It will eventually end. We now have the technology to take almost any living human cell and create an embryo. When the religious fanatics find this out, will they try to ban all cell research?

—Randall Weissbuch, MD

Albert Einstein once said: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” It’s time we recognize that these are not mutually exclusive belief systems, but that each enhances and challenges our understanding of the other, and how best to apply it to our lives personally, socially, morally and publicly. Each gives us the potential to achieve something greater in our personal lives as well as for the good of humanity. It is a classic case of the whole being greater than the some of the parts.

—Nigel A. Spier, MD, FACOG

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