- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2005

Concerns about stem-cell research

We applaud and thank you for Sunday’s “Stem cells and politicians” editorial, which strongly encourages “honest and healthy debate” in Congress on legislation to expand the current federal embryonic-stem-cell-research policy.

You wisely acknowledge that Rep. Michael N. Castle’s bill addresses, in a most sensitive manner, ethical concerns some Americans might have about expanding stem-cell lines. In fact, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act is ethically consistent with President Bush’s current policy.

The Republican Main Street Partnership agrees with you that the best and most balanced solution to this important issue will come from our elected representatives — not the courts.

We would, however, like to correct a few misstatements. The House stem-cell vote is not a vote for or against funding research but a vote for increasing the number of stem lines needed for this vital lifesaving research. There is no cost involved.

Mr. Castle and Main Street members do not support using human embryos for political expediency, but in the cases where embryos were created for the purpose of helping a couple start a family and are later slated for destruction, we support federal research. It is clearly research to save human lives from deadly, disabling illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, spinal-cord injury and others that affect more than 100 million Americans.

Also, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with its vigilant oversight, strict peer-review process and scientific collaboration, is the perfect vehicle to guide this sensitive, yet potentially lifesaving, form of research.

This vital legislation was developed in the most ethical manner with key medical groups, scientists, patient groups and ethicists, with all agreeing that embryonic research be restricted to embryos from fertility clinics, which already are marked for destruction. They also believe this is the best way to solve the pressing problem faced by researchers — that most, if not all, federally approved stem-cell lines opened to research by the president have become contaminated and are unusable.

We agree on the urgency of congressional debate and action on an issue that has the potential to help everyone with a family member or friend suffering from any of these many potentially curable, but deadly and debilitating, diseases. There’s no place for courtroom theatrics on stem-cell research.

SARAH CHAMBERLAIN RESNICK

Executive director

Republican Main Street Partnership

Washington

Debating immigation policy

The April 6 editorial “Putting illegals before the troops” confuses, rather than clarifies, the issues.

Although reasonable people may disagree about whether an absolutist or pragmatic approach to resolving the undocumented-immigrant crisis is appropriate, I would have thought everyone would agree that attaching controversial measures to an emergency funding bill for U.S. soldiers and tsunami relief efforts is inappropriate.

In contrast, your editorial suggests that it is fine to include controversial measures in such a bill. Your premise, however, for distinguishing among appropriate measures — that Real ID would strengthen homeland security while Ag Jobs would not — cannot withstand scrutiny.

Neither the House nor the Senate has held hearings or debated the Real ID proposal. Had there been any congressional vetting, the public would have learned that security experts believe that restricting licenses based on immigration status makes us less safe. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies all rely on motor-vehicle databases as their primary tool to locate individuals.

Limiting the data available to law enforcement officials thereby undermines our security. Ag Jobs, by contrast, would bring hundreds of thousands of hardworking undocumented immigrants out of the shadows — the very prescription advocated by security experts for enhancing security.

Disturbingly, the editorial fails to acknowledge that Real ID does much more than usurp 100 years of state authority over licensing. It also would significantly change our asylum system so that legitimate applicants fleeing religious, political and ethnic persecution would have a harder time finding refuge in this country. Asylum applicants already are subject to more security checks than other applicants for admission to this country and, if they have any connection to terrorism, already are barred from relief.

Real ID also would allow the government to send legitimate asylum seekers back to their persecutors even while their appeals are pending in federal court. We are a better nation than this.

Immigration policy is a complex and too often emotionally charged issue. We should strive to reach consensus where possible and be straight on the facts. I would have thought we could all agree that controversial issues should not be hidden in a measure that provides needed resources to young U.S. soldiers who are putting their lives on the line for us and to victims of the tsunami. Your editorial, sadly, proves me wrong.

DENYSE SABAGH

Former president

American Immigration Lawyers Association

Washington

Red, green and blue

Last weekend’s Masters at Augusta National brought out the best — and worst — in Tiger Woods (“Tiger’s back, but not unbeatable” Sports, Tuesday). The good: shots like his 15-foot birdie putt to win a first-hole playoff over Chris DiMarco and his U-turn chip into the 16th hole with his ball pausing over the cup before dropping, showing off the logo just as if in a Nike commercial.

His win wasn’t easy. He had some frustrations along the way, and there were some comments about his displaying behavior “unbecoming a professional” at one point, when he slammed his club into the ground. That’s understandable. There even was some talk about a penalty — but it didn’t last.

Furthermore, I can’t be the only one who has heard him yell an obscenity on three occasions during the past few months after making poor shots.

On those occasions, he uttered an outburst particularly offensive to more than just a few people, and each time, it passed without even the slightest comment or criticism from the television commentators. On Sunday it was Lanny Wadkins and Peter Kostis. I guess they think that if they ignore it, we didn’t hear it. I don’t doubt for a moment we would have heard about it had Vijay Singh been the offending player.

After his win, Tiger said “[And] to play as beautifully as I did this entire week is pretty cool.” That’s true, but it’s a lot less cool when he says it himself — and when he uses that kind of language.

Tiger won — but “cool” is the reason “the loudest cheers were for Mr. DiMarco along the back nine at Augusta National and even during the closing ceremony” (“DiMarco makes his mark,” Sports, Wednesday).

WILLIAM RICHARDSON

Virginia Beach

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