Pro-Life Leaders Aim to Block Stem Cell Research

Letter Addressed to U.S. Health Secretary

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 15, 2001 ( Pro-life leaders have sent a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson urging him to oppose the use of stem cell research that requires the destruction of human embryos.

«Our thoughts and prayers are with you and President Bush as you conclude the review you have conducted on the various and complicated aspects of stem cell research,» said the two-page letter dated Wednesday.

«[W]e offer the clear thinking of two world leaders,» the letter said. «The first is our President, who said in a recent letter to the Culture of Life Foundation, ´I oppose federal funding for stem cell research that involves destroying living human embryos.´ ´I support innovative medical research on life-threatening and debilitating diseases, including promising research on stem cells from adult tissue.´»

«The President is correct,» it continued. «The debate before you is not about ´stem cell research´ per se. We support medical research that does not utilize human stem cells obtained from sources that do not require the destruction of human embryos.»

«The words of Pope John Paul II provide the second quote,» the letter added. «In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, the Pontiff addresses specifically the responsibility towards life of those who serve in public office. ´(T)he use of human embryos or fetuses as an object of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings who have a right to the same respect owed to a child once born, just as to every person.´»

The letter continued: «Some have maintained that frozen embryos are not alive. This is misleading. It is precisely because such embryos are living that their stem cells are attractive for research. Please understand that recent advances in adult stem cell research have made the killing of human embryos unnecessary.»

Signers of the letter include Father Richard John Neuhaus, of the Institute on Religion & Public Life; Father Frank Pavone, of Priests for Life; Raymond L. Flynn, of Catholic Alliance; Bill Bennett, of Empower America; Austin Ruse, of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute; and Robert Royal, of the Faith & Reason Institute. Other signers include James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, and Chuck Colson, of Prison Fellowship.

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