Thursday, October 11, 2007

Open letter to Pope Benedict

Dear Pope Benedict,

Thanks for your recent comments that embryos should not be used for stem cell research, because doing so "violates the sanctity of human life."

Now, I realize you don't speak for me -- I'm a Jew, and we believe human life begins at birth. Still: On Saturday I made the decision of what to do with 11 embryos created in a lab with my eggs and a stranger's sperm. Those embryos were of varying qualities. Two went into my uterus, and remaining nine stayed in the petri dish. Why? Because despite your beliefs to the contrary, these embryos were not, really, human life. They wouldn't have survived in my uterus, and they never would have become children.

But they're not without potential. You see, Pope Benedict, I am participating in a stem cell research study, and my remaining embryos have been donated to science. I could not be more convinced that this is the right thing to do -- particularly because someone I love dearly has Parkinson's Disease, an illness that could someday be cured with therapies developed from embryonic stem cells.

If I'd transferred those embryos to my uterus, they would have died. I could have had the lab toss them in the trash. But instead I think they're doing more for human life in their current capacity than they could have in any other circumstance.

The embryos that had the potential for human life (note: potential) are dear to me; I am crossing my fingers that I get to meet one or both of them some day. I wish more of the others had more baby-making potential. But they didn't, and I am thrilled to be participating in the stem cell study.

The practice of doing research on stem cells was severely curtailed in the US by President Bush in 2001, when he banned the use of Federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. This, despite widespread public support for the practice. Pope, I can only hope that my incompetent, lame-duck government doesn't try to implement your religious viewpoints any more than it already has.

I pray for the embryos in my uterus and for the ones in petri dishes everywhere, in the hopes that all of them can make dreams of all varieties come true.

Aspiring Baker

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