Cardinal Rigali Slams Bills on Stem Cell Use

Congress Debates Cloning and Research Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 6, 2007 ( U.S. bishops are urging Congress to reject legislation that would promote the destruction of human embryos.

Two bills, S.5 on embryonic stem cell research and H.R. 2560 on human cloning, are set for debate and vote.

Regarding the stem cell bill, Cardinal Justin Rigali encouraged representatives “to reject this misguided and unethical legislation, which would force taxpayers for the first time to encourage deliberate attacks on innocent human life in the name of medical progress.”

Cardinal Rigali, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, mentioned only a few issues regarding stem cell research.

He said that embryonic stem cell research has been divisive to the society and has thus far had disappointing results such as uncontrollable growth and tumor formations.

Second, Cardinal Rigali said, “[P]ursuit of this destructive research will almost certainly require you to embrace more and more egregious violations of moral norms in the effort to bring its ‘promise’ to fruition.”

And, he added, ethically sound research using non-embryonic stem cells has continued to advance.

More violations

Cardinal Rigali said H.R. 2560, sponsored by Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado, is an example of his second concern — that approving destructive research only leads to more and more violations.

“While all attempts to mass-produce human embryos by cloning have been marked by failure and outright fraud so far, success in this area is deemed essential by supporters because the currently supply of so-called spare embryos available for research is so limited in number and genetic diversity,” he explained.

The 72-year-old prelate also cautioned about the interpretation of the cloning legislation: “H.R. 2560 may be promoted as a ban on human cloning. But it is exactly the opposite.

“This bill […] allows unlimited cloning of human embryos for research — and then makes it a crime to transfer the embryo to a womb to allow the new human to survive. What it actually prohibits is the act of becoming pregnant — a kind of law seen chiefly until now in the People’s Republic of China, where women can be punished for carrying an unauthorized child.

“For the first time in U.S. law, Congress would define a new class of humans it is a crime not to destroy.

“Yet this is the direction in which the embryonic stem cell agenda is now taking us.”

Cardinal Rigali concluded by urging legislators to vote against the bills “on behalf of taxpayers who should not be forced to help destroy innocent life, and on behalf of genuine progress for suffering patients.”

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