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Moral dilemma in stem cell debate

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December 9, 2007

IN HER Nov. 30 op-ed "Bush's 'vision' on stem cells," Ellen Goodman repeats a popular error about those opposed to stem cell research that destroys human embryos: that we convey on frozen embryos "a greater moral status than your aunt with diabetes."

The truth is that all human life, at whatever stage of development, has the same inherent moral value. Based on this truth, one's aunt with diabetes has no moral right to expect that human embryos should be destroyed as a means of helping to prolong her life simply because she has reached a more advanced stage of development.

Resolving competition between two goods - the life of the embryonic human and the healing of an adult human - is a classic moral dilemma. The recent scientific breakthrough with skin cells has shown a way out in this instance, but has not eliminated the dilemma.

It does not serve humanity to declare that individuals in one place or at one stage of development are more valuable than others; we must safeguard the dignity of all.

EDWARD EMIG
Seabrook, Texas

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