- The Washington Times - Monday, August 13, 2001

Readers respond to president's stem-cell decision

Your Aug. 11 front-page report "Pro-life defection doesn't develop" cites the National Right to Life Committee as an example of a "pro-life" group that has backed President Bush's decision to fund human embryo research. However, an Aug. 3 alert from NRLC, still available on its Web site, gives a different position: "NRLC and other pro-life organizations are urging the president to prevent any federal funding for research that uses stem cells obtained by killing an embryonic human being." By abandoning its original stance on this incredibly important issue in what seems to be a clearly political move, NRLC has both misled and disappointed its constituents. Thankfully, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was quick to criticize Mr. Bush's decision, calling it a "morally unacceptable" position that "demean our very humanity." The Catholic bishops have shown, once again, that they will not allow political pressures to dissuade them from being unconditionally pro-life.



President Bush's endorsement of limited funding for embryonic stem-cell research, a practice that requires the killing of an innocent human being who is a person at conception-fertilization, is despicable.

The suggestion of your Aug. 11 front-page report "Pro-life defection doesn't develop," that this decision was hailed by the "largest" pro-life group and "most" other pro-life groups is a gross exaggeration. Of course, we at American Life League do not have a vested interest in placating our Republican brethren, and perhaps that is the difference.

At any rate, Mr. Bush's decision on embryonic stem cell research is not moral or ethical and is a clear reversal of his campaign promise. Mr. Bush contradicted his own statements about the sanctity of life when he suggested, essentially, that if a third party has already killed an embryonic human being, then U.S. taxpayers can deliberately rob the body of its parts. The result of this flawed thinking is that the government becomes complicit in that original act of killing.

The pro-life community is not unanimously in agreement with this erroneous decision. In fact, many of us who are pro-life leaders are fearful for the future of this nation. What a shame that Mr. Bush addressed the direct killing of human beings in terms of how, when and where they are murdered rather than whether or not it is ever acceptable not to mention moral to murder even one human being.



American Life League Inc.

Stafford, Va.

President Bush's decision to limit stem-cell research to stem-cells taken from embryos that are already dead is indeed short-sighted.

There are many surplus in-vitro embryos available for stem-cell research that would die anyhow. It will be a horrible waste if they are not used for the benefit of humanity.

How is it we can accept the idea of "collateral damage" when innocent civilians are killed in warfare, but we cannot accept the concept of "collateral damage" when use of existing embryos for in-vitro fertilization are no longer needed. Doesn't the concept of the "greater good" apply here?

It is indeed sad that in this era of scientific and medical progress, made possible by marvelous advances in biotechnology and other fields, that Mr. Bush has chosen to sacrifice the health and future happiness of the human race on the altar of ecclesiastical superstition and ignorance.

The world's orthodox religious moralists have always supported the mass slaughter of humanity known as war. Obviously, humans are expendable while "every embryo is sacred."


Menasha, Wis.

If the United States was at war, we would not hesitate to sacrifice the lives of young soldiers to protect our citizens. So why are we so reluctant to sacrifice stem cells to fight the diseases that kill our population? A stem cell used in research to develop an important cure will have saved thousands, perhaps millions of lives. It will have died honorably even gloriously in our war against disease.


Elk Grove, Calif.

Last Sunday, your editorial "The more girls change " summarized "Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping for Mr. Right," a study of young adults adrift in a grim, destructive and ambivalent "lifestyle" that is anti-marriage and post-courtship. Your editorial pointed out that the collapse of traditional courtship rituals causes enormous anxiety and confusion among young women.

Clearly, it will take the very best efforts of loving families, pastors, rabbis, teachers and communities to help our young people find a way out of the present slough of despond. A starting point is an excellent anthology of readings on courtship and marriage by Amy and Leon R. Kass, titled "Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar." In their book, the professors Kass, who are husband and wife, share the rich perceptions of writers throughout history who have explored the all-important and now often-forgotten ethics of everyday life how men and women live, love, work and select one another as partners in marriage.

"Wing to Wing" merits thoughtful reading and discussion by young adults and their families, for it provides a road map on what is probably the most important function of any civilization: guiding our young in finding a loving and responsible marriage partner.

In his speech to the nation on Thursday night, President Bush engaged all of us in a serious discussion of our responsibilities to all humans even and especially to those helpless embryos at the beginning of life. It is worth noting that by creating a council to monitor stem-cell research, the president intends for the national dialogue on the all-important ethics of everyday life to continue. The president has selected Mr. Kass to chair that council, a selection that promises not only a greater understanding of bioethics but also a greater awareness of the duties we owe our young at all stages of their development.



Continuing a long Latin tradition

Your Aug. 7 story "A long Latin tradition," dealing with border disputes in Latin America, was not entirely accurate in its portrayal of the Guyana-Venezuela border issue.

The article states: "Venezuela never recognized an internationally brokered 1899 treaty that granted Essequibo to British Guiana." This is not true.

First of all, the arbitration treaty, which the United States helped broker, was signed by Venezuela and Great Britain in 1897. (Up to 1966, Great Britain was the colonial ruler of Guyana, which, as a colony, was known as British Guiana.) The arbitration tribunal made its award in October 1899, and based on its delimitation of the border, both Venezuelan and British boundary commissioners marked the defined borders during the period of 1901 to 1905. A joint treaty between Venezuela and Great Britain recognizing this demarcation was signed on Jan. 7, 1905.

Then in 1931, a boundary commission made up of representatives from Great Britain, Venezuela and Brazil made special astronomical, geodetical and topographical observations on Mount Roraima so as to fix the specific point where the boundaries of Brazil, Venezuela and British Guiana should meet. After diplomatic notes were exchanged among the three nations represented on the commission on Oct. 7 and Nov. 3, 1932, an agreement was finally reached on the specific location of the meeting point of the boundaries. The matter of the border was then considered permanently settled.

It was in 1962 that Venezuela officially declared that it was no longer recognizing the Arbitration Award of 1899. Your article states: "In 1966, the United Nations acknowledged that Venezuela's claim ought to be investigated." Again, this is historically incorrect.

In February 1966, both Venezuela and Great Britain, along with British Guiana, signed an agreement at Geneva by which they agreed to establish a mixed commission charged with the task "of seeking satisfactory solutions for the practical settlement of the controversy between Venezuela and the United Kingdom which has arisen as the result of the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 about the frontier between British Guiana and Venezuela is null and void." Guyana became a full party to this agreement when it achieved independence from Great Britain in May 1966.

The Geneva agreement also stipulated that if the parties were unable to reach a solution, they should ask the United Nations secretary-general to suggest a means of solution agreeable to both sides. This request was eventually made to the secretary-general in 1982, and only since that time has the United Nations begun consulting with Venezuela and Guyana on the border issue.


Ambassador to the United States

Embassy of the Republic of Guyana


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