- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Kudos to Cal Thomas (“Journey to destruction,” Opinion, Friday) for raising the moral and ethical concerns of many Americans regarding the decision by President Obama to federally fund embryonic stem cell research. Bishop William F. Murphy of the CatholicDiocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., described this controversial decision as the intentional destruction of a live human embryo.

Stem cells are generic (undifferentiated) cells that have the ability to turn into any of the 220 types of specialized cells in the body. Because of this feature, they are referred to as pluripotent. When a woman’s egg is fertilized with a man’s sperm, it creates a one-cell organism referred to as a zygote. That one tiny cell divides into two, four, eight and eventually many millions of cells, which become an embryo on its way to becoming a fetus, which becomes a child. Thus, an embryo is a fertilized egg and invites everyone to confront the question, “Do you believe that human life begins at conception?”

Examine the facts independent of the Catholic Church. According to Dr. Tom Coburn, Republican U.S. senator from Oklahoma, not one single treatment has been developed from embryonic stem cells, while at least 65 treatments have been developed from stem cells in umbilical-cord blood and adult tissues. South Korean cloning expert Curie Ahn has warned the scientific community that it will be unable to develop cures from embryonic stem cells for three to five more decades.

President Obama’s decision to reverse federal policy on banning the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research is a grave moral lapse in judgment that will open the door to many unintended ethical consequences.

I take exception to the critics who say that some Catholics who voted for Mr. Obama may be disappointed. They voted for Mr. Obama based on multiple criteria, including abortion and stem cell research. Thus, I have concluded that those who supported Mr. Obama, including many Catholics, made a conscious decision to place other issues about which they felt strongly above the sanctity of human life.

MICHAEL P. MULHALL

Rockville Centre, N.Y.

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