Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bishops: Embryonic Stem Cell Research "Absolutely Unacceptable"

From Catholic News Agency (via Catholic Online):
ORLANDO (CNA) - The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), gathered for its spring meeting in Orlando, on Friday issued its first formal statement addressing in detail embryonic stem cell research and the ethical controversies surrounding it.

The nine-page statement said that harvesting embryonic stem cells is a “gravely immoral” and “absolutely unacceptable” act that involves the deliberate killing of innocent human beings.

In their statement, titled “On Embryonic Stem Cell Research,” the bishops said we must pursue scientific progress in “ethically responsible ways” that “respect the dignity of each human being.”

The bishops’ statement addressed several arguments cited to support embryonic stem cell research. It also warned that some researchers and lawmakers are advocating for further research involving human cloning, the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos, and the use of “fetal farming” techniques. In the last, an embryo is implanted in a woman’s uterus and develops for some weeks, after which it is killed and its useful tissues and organs are harvested by researchers.

Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, the statement said “The Catholic Church ‘appreciates and encourages the progress of the biomedical sciences which open up unprecedented therapeutic prospects.’ At the same time, it affirms that true service to humanity begins with respect for each and every human life.

“Because life is our first and most basic gift from an infinitely loving God, it deserves our utmost respect and protection,” the statement continued.

The bishops rejected research proponents’ argument that any harm done in embryonic stem cell research is outweighed by the potential benefits, saying the idea that a good end can justify direct killing “has been the source of much evil in our world.” The statement argued that the same ethic that justifies taking some lives to help a sick patient today can be used to sacrifice the same patient tomorrow.

The bishops’ statement defended the humanity of the embryonic human being, saying “the human embryo, from conception onward, is as much a living member of the human species as any of us.” The statement said that those who do acknowledge the humanity of the embryo but insist it is too undeveloped to have full human rights actually deny that “we have inherent value simply by being members of the human family” and by implication deny that there are any inherent human rights.

“As believers who recognize each human life as the gift of an infinitely loving God, we insist that every human being, however small or seemingly insignificant, matters to God—hence everyone, no matter how weak or small, is of concern to us,” the statement said, noting that this is not only a Catholic teaching, but a position taken for granted in the Declaration of Independence.

“In our nation’s proudest moments Americans have realized that we cannot dismiss or exclude any class of humanity—that basic human rights must belong to all members of the human race without distinction,” the statement continued.

(emphasis added)

My Comments:
Ya hear that, "Maverick"? Don't count on my vote unless and until you change your position on ESCR.

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