U.S. Vote Shows Ignorance, Says Bishops' Aide

But Welcomes Support of a Bank for Cord-Blood Stem Cells

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 25, 2005 (Zenit.org).- A U.S. House vote in favor of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research shows “an appalling degree of ignorance … among those voting for this bill,” says a bishops’ aide.

On Tuesday the House of Representatives approved two bills on stem cell research. One bill would increase access to life-saving treatments by establishing a nationwide public bank for umbilical cord blood stem cells.

The other measure would force taxpayers to fund stem cell research which requires the destruction of human embryos.

President George Bush has promised to veto the embryo research bill. The House approved legislation on vote of 238-194, far less than the two-thirds support that would be needed to override a presidential veto.

“This was a David-and-Goliath story,” said Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.

“The pro-life movement and its allies in Congress went up against the combined resources of Hollywood celebrities, the research establishment, and a wealthy for-profit biotechnology industry, and fought them to a standstill,” he said.

“The bill to promote killing of human embryos for their stem cells will not become law,” Doerflinger said. “Yet the floor debate showed an appalling degree of ignorance and confusion on the issue among those voting for this bill, indicating the educational challenge to be addressed before the House votes on this issue again.

“Some even said that embryonic stem cells have a proven ability to cure patients and that adult stem cells do not, whereas exactly the opposite is true,” he said.

“The good news,” said the bishops’ aide, “is that the House of Representatives voted nearly unanimously to encourage the broader use of cord blood stem cells in research and treatment, an ethical and exceptionally promising field. This bill also has strong bipartisan support in the Senate and President Bush’s strong support. It should be enacted into law without delay, so it can begin helping patients with devastating disease.”

“It is always wrong for government to promote the destruction of innocent human life,” said Doerflinger. “Society must focus its efforts on promoting medical research that all Americans can live with.”

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