Letter to the editor – Ethics in stem cell research

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Dear Editor,

I would like to thank the Salt Lake Tribune for the informative article on Sunday, July 29, 2001 regarding the dynamics of the stem cell research debate.

Prior to reading this article, I had not been aware that the proposed source of stem cells would be from cells that would otherwise be discarded from in-vitro fertilization procedures.

As part of the in vitro fertilization technique, more cells are taken and fertilized from the mother than could be used. Those cells in excess are either placed in cold storage or are discarded.

So really, as far as ethics are concerned, the parameters currently being proposed for stem cell research, are the same as those for in vitro fertilization.

Are we against in vitro fertilization? I’m not.

Of course there is a difference between discarding these cells and actually using them in research. And perhaps that is a line that people don’t want to cross.

I would dare say that the main ethics barrier here is not based on facts, but comes because some people do not realize the source of the stem cells, but equate the procedure with abortion – terminating a life that could otherwise become a human being. That is not the case here.

Now I can see more why the members of the Utah congressional delegation are all in favor of the current proposed legislation.

Sterling D. Allan

Ephraim, Sanpete County

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