Stem Cells And The Soul; Religion, Science And The Politics Of Polarization

Published: Aug 02, 2004

The Reagans have become vocal proponents of embryonic stem-cell research. Theirs is a powerful witness. They have lived with "the long good-bye," as some have described living with a person who has Alzheimer's. Millions of Americans also live with family members who have life-threatening or terminal diseases that potentially could be cured by stem-cell transplantation. With Ron Reagan's speech at the Democratic National Convention last week, stem-cell research has officially entered the presidential campaign. This can mean less light and more heat on the subject. But does the question of whether it is ethical to do embryonic stem-cell research have to succumb to the politics of polarization that has begun to define what passes for public debate in the United States? The key question is this: Can we find a moral middle ground on embryonic stem-cell research so that this important research, which has so much potential for treatment as well as finding cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, heart disease and spinal-cord injury, can proceed? Embryonic stem-cell research also could alleviate the organ shortage crisis that causes many potential recipients to die while waiting, knowing they may not live long enough to receive a transplant.

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