US Prelates Consider Stem Cell Statement

WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 11, 2008 ( U.S. bishops may publish their first formal statement on embryonic stem cell research.

The prelates, meeting this week in Florida for their semi-annual spring meeting, will vote on a proposed statement on the topic.

The document is devoted to the question of whether researchers, with or without government funds, are ethically justified in destroying human embryos to obtain stem cells for research and possible future treatments.

The bishops firmly answer in the negative, responding to several arguments used in the public debate to justify such destruction, and explaining how an initial decision to destroy so-called spare embryos for this research leads to far broader ethical abuses, including new risks to women of child-bearing age.

Approval of this statement requires support by two-thirds of the episcopal conference members.