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Apply principles of organ donation in stem cell debate

Letters to the Editor
Published August 12, 2005

Re: Human embryos, human life, letter, Aug. 6.

The letter writer who was so indignant about Sen. Bill Frist's decision to support the use of excess embryos for stem cell research that would otherwise be discarded made this statement: "That's like saying they were going to die anyway, so we might as well salvage a usable part. That's not convincing. That's horrifying."

What does he think happens every time a decision is made to donate organs from a person who will not be able to live for one reason or another? This has been going on for years. As a nurse, I have seen many families over the years make the noble, selfless decision to let something good come from a sad situation so others who are suffering can have a chance to live or improve their lives. Is he horrified at that? How is this so different? And if the clinical definition of death is the absence of brain activity (despite a beating heart), isn't the beginning of life when brain waves begin? There is no brain activity in an embryo yet.

I guess some people would rather see these unused embryos thrown away than to give scientists a chance to alleviate human suffering. Thanks to Sen. Bill Frist for using common sense.

-- J.C. Mitchell, Safety Harbor

It's about sacrifice

With great interest, I read William Raspberry's Aug. 8 column Hypocrisy beats consistency in stem cell debate. As Raspberry points out, he would "like to have $100 for every American who espoused the sanctity of human life and still believes in the death penalty," or supports the war in Iraq. To further this debate, what about all the folks that continue to believe that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (killing thousands of innocent civilians in Japan) saved the world from unthinkable doom? As some from the "Greatest Generation" point out, sacrifices had to be made. Sacrifices such as voluntary enlistment and the rationing of gasoline and food had to be made for the greater good of all. During the world wars, lives were lost all over the world to save the future for mankind. The point is that humans make sacrifices, whether we want to or not.

Yes, I agree that limits should be placed on stem cell research. Embryos should never be created just for that scientific purpose. However, if they have already been created and they are going to be discarded, why not support research that has potential to cure life-threatening diseases and end a bit more of human misery?

-- Leigh Ann York, Zephyrhills

No respect for Planned Parenthood

Re: Storms acts on religious bias, letter, Aug. 2.

I must express a view different from that of the letter writer who states that "Planned Parenthood Federation of America is one of the most respected organizations in this country."

Many people find nothing to respect in an organization that has been so instrumental in aiding women to destroy their unborn babies through abortion. I am certainly one of those people who have no respect for this organization.

-- B.J. McKinney, Safety Harbor

Protecting public waterfronts

Re: Boaters lose ground, Aug. 5.

Maintaining public access to Florida's waterways is important to our state's economy and our quality of life. I have worked over the last two years in Tallahassee to address the loss of working waterfronts in the state of Florida and will continue to focus on preserving public access to our state waters for future generations.

The loss of working waterfronts throughout the state is a multifaceted problem. My approach was to bring all interested parties together and develop legislation to recognize the marine industry and economic benefits it brings to our state. House Bill 955 was the final legislative product that passed the Florida Legislature this past session. As the sponsor of this legislation, my focus was ensuring public access to our waterways now and in the future.

H.B. 955 was the first step in protecting some of Florida's most important economic and recreational assets - our working public waterfronts. The loss of public marinas and access to our waterways is critical and we must all continue to focus on providing access on a local and state level.

-- State Rep. Kim Berfield, Clearwater

A mean-spirited attack

Re: Extreme makeover: Harris Edition, Aug. 9.

I am extremely disappointed and very offended by your Floridian front-page caricature of Katherine Harris. At a time when we are trying to teach our children to respect people, you denigrate Harris and yourself through a crass, bullying feature. What example are you setting for young readers?

While you may disagree with Harris' politics, her being a public figure does not give you the right to launch a juvenile, mean-spirited, personal attack. You are contributing to the vituperative nature of today's politics.

-- Robert Sherman, Palm Harbor

Keep Florida's kids smoke-free

Re: Restore antismoking ads, editorial, Aug. 8.

Thank you for reminding your readers of the importance of educating Florida's youth about the dangers of tobacco. Our state was once a model for the entire country and when it was well funded, boasted a remarkable 58 percent decline in smoking rates among middle-school students.

Now the Truth campaign flounders, and as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society, as well as a school nurse, I am very concerned. I urge all others who care about tobacco use among children to join our current effort to make our Legislature do the right thing and restore the funding for antitobacco education.

Each day in Florida, over 35,900 kids under the age of 18 become smokers, and many will die as a result. Please help us fight Big Tobacco. Interested persons may volunteer or download a petition on line at or call 1-800-940-1969.

-- Lynn Landseadel, RN, Spring Hill

Cartoon made mockery of death

Re: Michael Ramirez's Aug. 10 cartoon.

I was very saddened to see this cartoon by Michael Ramirez in my beloved Times. Lung cancer is a tragic disease and yes, it is stigmatized by smoking. Just as deaths from AIDS, obesity, alcohol, skin cancer, etc. have their own stigmas. I realize when death comes, there must be something that we can angrily point our finger at. In this case and all smoking-related deaths, let it be the tobacco companies that hooked us in during our teenage years.

Let's mourn the person and admire them for their accomplishments, not mock their cause of death.

-- Jean Schwarz, St. Petersburg

[Last modified August 12, 2005, 00:46:18]

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