Deputies in Bundestag Urged to Defend Life

Open Letter on Importation of Embryonic Cells

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BERLIN, JAN. 18, 2002 ( As a debate on the importing of embryonic stem cells for research looms in the Bundestag, deputies were urged by Christian leaders to make a clear vote that defends human life from conception.

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, president of the German bishops´ conference, and Manfred Kock, president of the Council of Evangelical Churches, published a joint letter today, which was sent to all German deputies Jan. 14.

The embryo «has a right to life and to unconditional protection from the moment of conception,» the letter states.

Any other premise that displaces the time of «the beginning of life» or that «only guarantees partial protection to the embryo in the first stage, bases itself only on unstable terrain,» the letter adds.

The Christian leaders explain that the promises that some scientists have offered of the possibility of new therapies must not be separated from the methods used to achieve them and from their consequences.

«They are unacceptable when they foresee the elimination of the human being in the embryonic stage,» the Christian leaders state.

However, the letter says that Catholics and Protestants support «the promotion of alternative methods,» geared to the development of new therapies, for example, research with adult stem cells.

«They could be an occasion to stimulate a dialogue that would go beyond the confines of Germany and be addressed both to countries where results with this type of research have already been obtained as well as countries that are currently looking into it,» the letter continues.

These fundamental aspects, together «with the responsibility toward the present and future generations,» are the reasons that should convince the deputies to give «a clear vote in favor of the dignity and protection of man from the beginning of his existence,» the religious leaders conclude.

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