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Article ignored ethical aspects of stem cell research

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2005 - Autumn


I was disappointed with the Chronicle piece by Marc Wortman [“For Stem Cell Researcher, Connecticut’s Initiative Offers a New Avenue for Progress,” Summer 2005] that involved an interview with Diane Krause, M.D., Ph.D., and focused on her support for human embryonic stem cell research.

The superficial approach of the article minimized the ethical controversies of human embryonic stem cell research and offered readers an unbalanced and misleading feel-good article.

Lacking was acknowledgement that, with the technology currently available, human embryonic stem cell research involves the destruction of human embryos. As a former human embryo myself writing to another former human embryo (yourself), it should not need to be stated that human beings come from human embryos, but advocates of human embryonic stem cell research seem unwilling to acknowledge this basic biological fact. I was particularly chilled by Dr. Krause’s statement that she wants “the freedom to use embryonic stem cells as a tool.” I think the piece should have noted that there exist some serious and complicated moral and ethical concerns in this type of research even if Dr. Krause is seemingly not troubled by them.

If anything, Dr. Krause’s own work with adult stem cells suggests that we have much to gain from that line of research, which does not have the same moral and ethical difficulties as research with human embryonic stem cells. The article failed to mention that to date thousands of living patients have been helped with adult stem cell technology. This includes patients with spinal cord injuries, genetic and metabolic disorders, impaired heart function and so on. It did not mention that no one has yet been helped in any way by embryonic stem cells.

I would like to have seen a better analysis of these grave and pressing issues in your magazine. I hope Yale Medicine will take on this controversial topic in a more comprehensive manner with a future feature article.

Robert Kaladish, M.D.
Amherst, N.H.

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