OUR VIEW: A way around the stem cell ethical debate

Twice now, President Bush has exercised his power of presidential veto to strike down congressional approval of government funding for embryonic stem-cell research.

A staunch respect for life prevents the president from signing such measures into law.

"Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical - and it is not the only option before us," Bush said following the veto earlier this month. "Researchers are now developing promising new techniques that offer the potential to produce ... stem cells without having to destroy human life."

Bush is correct, and many of Georgia's elected leaders are already on board.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson's bill, known as the Hope Offered through Principled and Ethical Stem Cell Research Act, would permit federal funding of stem-cell research that does not harm embryos but instead derives these cells from amniotic fluid and placentas, and from embryos that have died naturally.

The president has identified Isakson's plan as one he could support.

In its last session, Georgia's General Assembly approved a bill championed by state Sen. David Shafer. That bill, too, focused on the value of postnatal tissues and fluids, calling for these stem-cell sources to be preserved, not thrown away as is the case now.

Shafer's bill was signed into law by Gov. Sonny Perdue in May and:

' Creates the Georgia Commission for Saving the Cure and charges it with the promotion of nondestructive stem cell research and oversight of the Georgia Newborn Umbilical Cord Blood Bank.

' Gives every Georgia mother the opportunity to donate her postnatal tissue and fluid to the bank.

Both bills - Isakson's at the federal level and Shafer's at the state level - are needed measures that will facilitate continued research while avoiding the need for the ethical debate.

"I firmly believe there is a way to allow this important research to move forward without compromising moral standards," Isakson said.

That be the case, we ought to get on with it. We congratulate Shafer for his work with Georgia lawmakers and urge Isakson to move his bill through Congress and get it to the president for his signature.

As time passes, thousands of Americans will be diagnosed with injuries and disease ranging from cancer to cerebral palsy to diabetes to Parkinson's - all ailments that could be alleviated through stem-cell techniques.

America deserves to see this promising research proceed.

Cable barriers on freeways welcome safety improvements

A report this week that the Georgia Department of Transportation will start work later this year on cable barriers that will help prevent crossover accidents on rural stretches of Interstates 85 and 985 is welcome news.

The cable barriers - a collection of high-tension cable wires that help absorb the energy from a crash while keeping vehicles from crossing over into oncoming traffic - will run on I-85 from Ga. Highway 20 in Buford into Franklin County and along the entire stretch of I-985. The combined cost of the two projects is estimated at $15 million.

Georgia DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope said the plan to add the barriers was in place before portions of I-85 near Ga. 20 were closed by serious accidents, including a fatality, three times in the past month. The addition of these barriers will be money well spent.

The unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Columns, letters to the editor and cartoons reflect the opinions of the individuals who penned them. It is the policy of the Gwinnett Daily Post to correct all errors of fact. Corrections usually run on Page 4A.