Bishops Weigh in on US Stem Cell Proposal

Participate in Public Comment Period

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 22, 2009 ( As the National Institutes of Health is considering guidelines on federally funding embryonic stem cell research, the U.S. bishops say the proposal is not only «morally objectionable» but also increasingly «scientifically obsolete.»

Monsignor David Malloy, general secretary of the U.S. episcopal conference, submitted comments on the draft guidelines. The public comment period on the guidelines ends Tuesday.

The bishops’ have provided citizens an easy way to submit comments at their Web site.

For his part, the monsignor affirmed the dignity of human life at every stage and the right to not be subjected to harmful experimentation without one’s consent. The «central fact of science,» he added, is that the embryo to be destroyed to obtain stem cells, «is a human being at a very early stage of his or her development.»

Not about religion

Monsignor Malloy affirmed that the stem cell debate is not a matter of religious belief.

The priest recalled the conclusion of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission appointed by President Bill Clinton, that «because human embryos deserve ‘respect’ as a form of human life, destroying them for stem cells is ‘justifiable only if no less morally problematic alternatives are available for advancing the research.'»

He went on to note that alternatives are not only available, but have been found to offer the only effective promise for stem cell cures.

He said «science and ethics have been ignored» in President Barack Obama’s March decision to rescind both the policy preventing researchers from destroying live human embryos for federally funded research and the executive order instructing the NIH to thoroughly explore new avenues for obtaining pluripotent stem cells without destroying human embryos.

«As the president noted,» Monsignor Malloy said, «we must not make ‘a false choice between sound science and moral values.’ In fact, these sources of guidance both point in the same direction, away from destructive embryonic stem cell research. His executive order and these guidelines nonetheless insist on a course of action that is both morally objectionable and, increasingly, scientifically obsolete.»

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