Letters to the editor
Stem cell research: Another view
In the Oct. 4, issue, your paper devoted about 25 column inches to a meeting about stem cell research. According to one sentence, purpose of the meeting was to educate the public. In the report of the meeting, it seems the purpose was to recruit opposition to Constitutional Amendment 2. My view is that true education occurs when all possible evidence for and against a proposal is presented. Opening paragraphs of the article report "local groups -- have been meeting and educating their peers, in attempts to sway either side to the other side."
Recent publicity from several sources has been aimed at swaying opinion. Opposition ads have made claims about the negative side based on fear and so-called "Christian" and "biblical" perspectives. As a person who has devoted more than 60 years to seeking to understand the Christian faith and the biblical basis for faith and action, these persons do not speak for me. One speaker at the meeting is quoted as saying, "Stem cell research from a universal Judeo-Christian standpoint is unethical by all standards." Many ads and appeals for passage of the amendment have been made by scientists and Christians. These persons appeal to the benefit that may come to those afflicted with debilitating disease. Diabetes, Alzheimer's, forms of paralysis and disease that robs individuals of the ability to walk, speak and care for their own needs are given as possible benefits.
The proposed Amendment contains restrictions limiting what can be done but seeks to "allow and set limitations on stem cell research, therapies and cures" -- "ensure Missouri patients have access to any therapies and cures and allow Missouri researchers to conduct any research, permitted under federal law; ban human cloning or attempted cloning; -- require expert medical and public oversight -- impose criminal and civil penalties for any violations; and prohibit state or local governments from preventing or discouraging lawful stem cell research, therapies and cures."
Those for the amendment suggest that if it is not passed, researchers and those working to find solutions for disease will move away from Missouri. Though there is obvious disagreement in the medical professions, a question needs consideration. Do we want our legislature, or some other group to decide what treatment our physician can prescribe? In my view, there is misinformation being circulated not based on what is known. The danger is that those with little or no training will make decisions that should be left to those with most knowledge. My training and background give me some basis for disagreeing with some of the statements opposing the amendment. Genetic study is a very complex field and needs the best minds our society can muster. It is my view God gave us minds to be used to explore ways to solve problems and has trusted us enough to make many things possible. There are risks in exploring limits to life, but we have many benefits given by those who have risked danger.
Those calling themselves Christian have made many decisions in the past that have been proven wrong by science, personal experience and dare I say, "by an enlightened interpretation of the Bible and what is God's will." Though I know a number of pastors, some politicians, some scientists oppose the amendment, I will vote for the possibilities in research hoping for an end to some suffering and for a fuller life for those who are currently afflicted by some of the diseases destroying the abilities God gave us. How many do you know who have lost limbs, eyesight to the ravages of diabetes? How many suffer from diseases that destroy nerve tissue, muscular strength and destroy the possibility of independent living and place a burden on family members who must care for the disabled? I want to make the mistake of seeking to end suffering and add to the God-given potential life offers, realizing there are dangers, but trusting God will guide those who make decisions if we will allow Him to do so.
Lester Thornton, retired pastor and one who seeks TRUTH
Flag lady retires
I lost a good friend Thursday, Max Koening died. Max was a great supporter of the "Flag Lady." He was the only person who would support the idea of getting enough flags to decorate all the veterans graves in Vernon County. He not only donated many but he helped organize a swim club to decorate one of the cemeteries in town. I shall miss him.
I have recently undergone complete shoulder surgery on my right shoulder. I am resigning as "Flag Lady." I will no longer be able to hang the flags on Austin Boulevard. The flags are stored, and any club or organization that wants to take over this endeavor can contact the tourism board. I would like to thank all of the people who made this program a success. I will still be handing out grave flags for cemeteries in Vernon County. I guess I can't let go of everything. If you need grave flags, come to the Sears store, where I will hand them out until they are gone. Right now, I have plenty of flags for graves. Bless all of you who have helped in any way. I think, come Memorial Day, I will miss seeing the flags on Austin Boulevard.