Lawmakers Urged to Reject Funding for Embryonic Stem-Cell Work

Cardinal Keeler Sends Letter to Congressional Committees

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 14, 2004 ( Cardinal William Keeler urged congressional opposition to any amendments to a bill that would authorize the use of federal funds for the destruction of human embryos in stem-cell research.

“Obviously such efforts are in direct violation of any ethic that deserves to be called pro-life,” Cardinal Keeler said in a recent letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

“Government has no business forcing taxpayers to support research that relies on the direct destruction of any human life,” said the cardinal, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities.

“This is in no way changed by the argument that these human embryos ‘would have been discarded anyway,'” the cardinal added. “The fact that many abortions are performed in the U.S. creates no argument that Congress must use its funding power to promote such killing.”

In his letter, he recalled that President Bill Clinton’s National Bioethics Advisory Commission in 1999 acknowledged broad agreement that early human embryos “deserve respect as a form of human life.”

Since then, knowledge of stem cells has advanced through privately funded research using adult stem cells, animal embryonic stem cells (ESCs), and the human ESC lines eligible for funding under the current policy, Cardinal Keeler said.

“As a result, researchers now know that the apparent initial ‘promise’ of ESCs was exaggerated,” he said. “At the same time, adult stem cells and other avenues that pose no moral problem have advanced quickly toward human clinical trials to treat corneal damage, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, sickle-cell anemia, cardiac damage and many other conditions.” (See

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