Religious beliefs stir debate over practice

By Jamie Bowen, Staff Writer

U religious leaders have made up their minds about the morality of destroying live embryos in stem cell research, but many students are muddled in their opinions.

Arbie Nersisian, a senior in accounting, said he is torn by the debate. On one hand, the research can save future generations from the problems of today, he said. But he finds it hard to reconcile taking stem cells away from live embryos.

“Who is to say a scientist can say which embryo can live or die?” Nersisian asked.

James Carroll, a senior in marketing, is on the same fence. The embryonic stem cell research will save lives, but at what point does the cost mean ending a human life?” he asked.

“It’s always been the trivia question of when life begins,” said Spencer Young, a sophomore in information systems.

Carroll said he believes that an embryo isn’t a human life. When a growing fetus has developed fingers and limbs, “when it is not a tadpole,” is the point at which termination would be equivalent to ending a life, he said.

Young isn’t so sure. There’s also a matter of choice, he said.

“There is a potential life in the embryo,” Young said. It isn’t fair for people to make decisions for a potential life, but the complication is that said life can’t realistically have a say in the matter, he said.

If it were a choice between saving the potential life and the life of a sick family member, Young said he thinks he would choose the embryo.

Some of the U’s religious leaders are comparatively confident in their stance.

“Life is sacred from conception through death,” said Craig Frogley, a teacher at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Institute of Religion. “When scientific research can help in the preservation of life, then it ought to be preserved with every energy and intelligence available.”

Father Peter Rogers, pastor of the St. Catherine of Siena Newman Center, said it is important to distinguish between adult stem cell research and embryonic stem cell research. Rogers said the Catholic Church supports adult stem cell research because effective cures have already been discovered, but they do not support embryonic research because it causes death to the embryo.

Students aren’t so sure if a clear-cut decision exists, one way or another. Carroll said scientists should wait until they can find a way to conduct the same research without destroying live embryos, when the problem is no longer a hurdle.

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