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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'No' to embryonic stem-cell research

Some diseases are better than their cure," said Russell Saltzman, in testimony to a Senate subcommittee considering whether federal funds can be used for embryonic stem-cell research.

Stem cells of embryos generate all other bodily tissues. Researchers say the cells can produce treatments for heart conditions, Parkinson's disease and diabetes, or repair damaged spinal cords. These cells are gathered from aborted fetuses or from unused embryos from in vitro fertilizations.

Saltzman, pastor of Ruskin Heights Lutheran Church, Kansas City, Mo., says his perspective is shaped by the circumstances of his conception — the result of step-sibling incest. Had he been conceived after 1972, he said he may have been aborted. But Saltzman is also a diabetic and, so, could benefit from the research.

He testified: "There's almost anything I would do to get rid of [diabetes]. Almost. [But] I would never consent to any treatment for my diabetes that directly or indirectly came about as the result of destroying a human embryo. It comes to a question. Is the human embryo human life, or is it a mere bit of research material? ... We should have in some place some restraint that cautions the strong against using the weak for their own purposes."


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