The use of stem cell and fetal tissue for contemporary medical research is a complicated moral issue, but that does not mean that the decision as to whether or not to allocate federal funds to stem cell research should be dictated by religious beliefs.

The use of stem cells has far-reaching possibilities, including “cell therapies,” which is when stem cells are stimulated to develop into specialized cells that could be used to treat diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injuries, stroke, burns, heart disease and diabetes. Using stem cells could reduce the dependency on organ donation and transplantation.

Religious interests with a “pro-life”, anti-science agenda have conflated fetal and stem cell research with abortion because the cells may come from aborted fetuses or from embryos resulting from in vitro fertilization that are no longer needed for infertility treatment. Abortion and in vitro fertilization procedures are safe, legal, and harmless. Blocking funding or preventing further research to satisfy the personal ideology of some religious groups not only undermines the separation of church and state, it holds back scientific progress that can actually save lives.

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