Embryonic stem cell research at odds with "Do no harm"

LETTER — Posted April 19, 2004

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Regarding "States, scientists seek alternate funding for stem cell research" (Article, March 15): Many of us physicians who are driven by the good intentions of finding cures or treatments to human illness sometimes forget our first responsibility to "Do no harm."

Noble goals oftentimes can distract us when embarking on new technologies laden with ethical minefields such as stem cell research, which carries potential benefit, albeit unproven, at the expense of embryonic life. How easily we forget our Hippocratic belief that places the utmost importance on human life when we highlight the need for treatments and the "advances" of other countries.

It might be healthy, if not humbling, to remember that each one of us began our own lives as a single fertilized ovum followed by a few divided cells.

Should we not, in turn, nurture our own young and give them an equal opportunity to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as we ourselves have been afforded?

Bruce Easterling, MD, Columbia, S.C.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/04/19/edlt0419.htm.

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