- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Wrongs committed on embryos don't make stem-cell research right

The controversy over embryonic stem-cell research is certain to grow, and there will be absolutists on both sides of the issue who will never be willing to compromise no matter what the realities ultimately prove to be.
One side suggests that science must be restrained by morality and that if life begins at conception, destroying an embryo is taking a human life. Those supporting the use of embryonic stem cells counter that the suffering of millions of people might be reduced or eliminated with the treatments resulting from the research and that therefore it should be federally funded. They also ask why it is wrong to use embryos that will likely will be discarded anyway.
The simple truth is that embryonic stem-cell research is going to continue whether the federal government gives its blessing or not. Companies and research labs around the world do not depend upon federal funds to continue the research.
The federal government should not move to end stem-cell research by private U.S. companies, but federal funds should not be made available at this time. Though we may want to ensure that we do not lag behind other countries in the development of potentially life-saving treatments, no citizen should be forced to support what he or she feels is morally reprehensible.
The moral side of this issue should not be discounted easily by the argument that many of these embryos will be discarded anyway. Such reasoning could be used to justify the extraction of cells from aborted or soon to be aborted children: "Well, aren't they going to be discarded anyway?"

Crescent Springs, Ky.

Pay up or zip up

If you cannot own up to the responsibility of fathering a child, do not impregnate a woman. That is the message the Wisconsin Supreme Court was trying to send recently when it upheld an order that prohibits a "deadbeat" dad from having any more children while he is on probation. Regrettably, Kathleen Parker seems to disagree with this message in her July 16 Commentary column, "Reproductive limits by court order?"
Deadbeat dads are not threatened with jail for having a bad credit report; they face jail for shirking their responsibility and breaking the law. Not a single inmate is in jail because of "bad times." Whether he is in jail for rape or for being a deadbeat dad, he is there because of a bad choice.
It is physically impossible to "accidentally misplace" genetic material, as Ms. Parker claims, at least in a way that could possibly impregnate a woman. No matter the degree of consent on the part of the woman, there is no doubt of the man's will in the matter.
"Pay up or zip up," indeed. If you cannot own up to the responsibility of your actions, do not commit the action.

College Park, Md.

Adams' one bad deed doesn't outweigh Jefferson's mistakes

Columnist Nat Hentoff's July 16 column extolling Thomas Jefferson as "the architect of freedom" does not reveal every fact relevant to deciding whether that honor is merited. Though it was published many years ago, "Jefferson & Civil Liberties: The Darker Side" by Leonard Williams Levy recounts events in Jefferson's life that might be considered as abominable as John Adams' support for the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.
Most American history teachers fail to note that Jefferson supported requiring loyalty oaths in 1777 to identify suspected loyalists who could not be formally accused of treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia. An approach like that during a state of war was eerily similar to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's method during the 1950s. Moreover, Jefferson drafted a bill of attainder against Josiah Phillips, a Tory raider, in 1778 when the Virginia Militia was unable to capture him. Later in Jefferson's presidency, the chief executive took it upon himself to assault the Fourth Amendment with a vigor equal to the zeal the Federalists showed in their assault on the First Amendment. Pursuing a policy of depriving England and France of American commerce, the Embargo Act of 1808 empowered U.S. revenue cutters to stop and hold cargo on the mere suspicion that it was destined for foreign ports. Neither search warrants nor court proceedings were required for this action.
Perhaps we malign Adams for limiting the First Amendment because we value free speech and the community of ideas that enables our country to hold so much intellectual capital. However, the British violated the sanctity of home during the Revolution just as severely as the First Amendment was violated by restrictions on seditious dissent. And some in our own government were quick to discard the civil protections against depriving the right of due process of the law.
Today, much is made of the First Amendment, and Mr. Hentoff honors Jefferson for protecting it. However, we've been blessed never to need the Third Amendment, which bars the quartering of troops in homes. Today we see this amendment as somewhat anachronistic. I suspect, however, if that amendment or any other amendments in the Bill of Rights had not existed, we might have a different attitude.
Though Jefferson rightly is praised for drafting the Declaration of Independence, bringing the Louisiana Purchase into the Union and dissenting from abominable laws, his own record on civil liberties is as flawed as his predecessor's, and it would be a grave injustice to criticize Adams for one bad deed while ignoring a whole host of bad deeds his more charismatic antagonist committed.

Richmond, Va.

Story hasty in accepting global warming claims

I believe President Bush's point on global warming is that there is no clear consensus among scientists on global warming, let alone what causes it. Some scientists aren't even sure global warming exists. Yet in your July 16 article "Japan to be squeezed at climate conference," you say: "The pact can take effect only if ratified by 55 countries or countries accounting for 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, the chief culprits in global warming."
This sentence states as fact something that is still being debated in scientific circles. These types of statements reflect the opinion of the reporter and belong in the Op-Ed section, not a news report.

Torrance, Calif.

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