Your responses to my article on stem cell research show what a divisive issue this is, even among those who consider themselves right of center.

While some of you believed the promising research should be federally funded, most of you felt this was a matter for private money.

Rick Mangrum of Bentonville, Ariz., writes:

“Principle" is a difficult concept for many to understand. It is similar to the leadership concept of doing what you say you will do. Strong leadership is not easy to live. Agree with him or not, the president understands both of these concepts.”

SRE: Thanks for writing Rick, many of you made this point. I think “principle” is more complex on the presidential level with competing interests and the necessity for compromise. I am also struggling to find the principle of protecting human life when, even if the research was completely blocked, the embryos would die.

Pat McGervey of Avon Lake, Ohio writes:

You argue your points well, however I still disagree with you. I do not want my tax dollars to pay to destroy human life. I do not want anyone experimenting on another human being. I believe, as John Kerry does, that life begins at conception. Unlike Sen. Kerry, I believe that all human beings have human rights.

I believe there are many human rights, not the least of which is the right to life. This is why I object to abortion, capital punishment, and unnecessary war. I believe that these embryos ought to be put up for adoption, as many have before them. I appreciate what the president has done in this case, and I believe that generations to come will remember this as his finest hour.

SRE: These are eloquently made points Pat, and I respect your view. I think there are about 400,000 frozen embryos in the United States however, and I question whether all could find adoptive parents.

Paul Szabo writes:

The president is not blocking “private” embryonic stem cell research as your story insinuates-- only government sponsored support. I do not want my tax dollars to support what I believe is murder of human life for any reason, and I side with the president.”

SRE: Great point Paul. My article clearly says “federally supported research,” however I think clarifying that distinction is important.

Jeremy of Austin, Texas writes:

I conducted my own non-scientific poll at work today. Out of 25 people asked, 19 people thought Bush outlawed stem cell research when he vetoed the embryonic stem cell funding bill today. I think that explains the polls in which 70 percent of the country thinks Bush was wrong in vetoing the bill. The Whitehouse and the media have failed to educate the public on what the debate is about. It is about whether federal tax dollars should be used to fund research on embryos.

SRE: Again, it is important that we mind the distinction between federal and private funding. I think the polls questioned whether the person favored modest legislation allowing somewhat greater support for embryonic stem-cell research, and therefore, they would think Bush was wrong in vetoing the bill. However, you make the important point that some may be misinformed.

Alan Farrier writes:

Why should the president agree to another huge government payout when the private sector is already doing the research, pouring money into it, and getting positive results?

Principle? Of course there is! Why not cut off Medicare? Most of the money is spent on those with only six months to live -- they are going to die anyway, their usefulness to society is over-- and use their bodies for research or mine their bodies for spare parts? Oh that’s right, they are human beings and fertilized eggs aren’t, right?

It has been argued that embryos don’t look human, but they do look just like a human at that stage of development.

The principle is that we do not trade one life for the slim hope of saving others, especially when other proven methods are available.

SRE: I appreciate the slippery slope argument, however I have two contentions: firstly, the embryos being used to provide a chance to another human being would otherwise be destroyed, and secondly, the moderate increase in funding would not result in a huge government payout.

Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission.

A woman of firsts, she was the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign (Dukakis). Estrich is committed to paving the way for women to assume positions of leadership.

Books by Estrich include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System" and "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders." Her book "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women," is a departure from her other works, encouraging women to take care of themselves by engaging the mind to fight for a healthy body. Her latest book, The Los Angeles Times bestseller, "Sex & Power," takes an impassioned look at the division of power between men and women in the American workforce, proving that the idea of gender equality is still just an idea.