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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 6:10 p.m., Thursday, August 9, 2001

Decision sparks local debate about stem cell research

Advertiser Staff

Some in Hawai'i today expressed disappointment in President Bush's decision to allow limited embryonic stem cell research.

John Long, executive director of Hawai'i Right to Life, said he was disappointed with the president's decision and knows many people within the anti-abortion movement who have ethical dilemmas about stem cell research.

He said he looks forward to a reversal of the decision.

"To me, there's something almost ghoulish about this. We're not against research, and we're not against advancement. The moral dilemma is that I just can't see any benefit, and the opposition is putting a human face on it.

"I'm confident that we'll look back on this period in history and say my, God, what were we thinking ... what caused us to give up our souls for science?"

Scientists have said stem cell research is important because it may lead to new treatments for diseases including diabetes and Parkinson's.

Bush's decision, still controversial in many religious circles, will allow the National Institutes of Health to fund research only on existing stem cell lines, which are cells that have already been extracted from an embryo and are continuing to divide in petrie dishes and test tubes in a handful of laboratories around the country.

Esther Gefroh of Honolulu said she sides with Pope John Paul in condemning the use of human embryos for medical research. Gefroh would rather see stem cell research derived from umbilical chords.

"My husband and I are against any research that comes from aborted babies, and even doing research on embryos that are created by science in a lab; it's just not natural. It's a dilemma because everyone is trying to see the good coming out of this, but science is trying to make a right out of what we think is a wrong. Even if paralyzed people can benefit from stem cell research, you're doing it at the cost of a baby's life."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.