Cardinal Rigali: Obama stem cell order 'a sad victory of politics over science and ethics’

.- Following President Obama’s latest executive order lifting restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, both Cardinal Justin Rigali and the Colorado bishops released a statement saying that the decision to lift restrictions on embryonic stem cell research shows a disregard for the dignity of human life.

Cardinal Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, began his statement today by calling Obama’s executive order “a sad victory of politics over science and ethics."

He explained that embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is wrong due to the fact that it destroys “innocent human life” by “treating vulnerable human beings as mere products to be harvested,” and also noted that the executive order “disregards the values of millions of American taxpayers who oppose research that requires taking human life.”

Finally, Cardinal Rigali continued, “it ignores the fact that ethically sound means for advancing stem cell science and medical treatments are readily available and in need of increased support.”

The cardinal also quoted a January 16 letter written by Cardinal Francis George and addressed to Obama which listed three reasons why ESCR is “especially pointless at this time.”

First, the letter said, “basic research in the capabilities of embryonic stem cells can be and is being pursued using the currently eligible cell lines as well as the hundreds of lines produced with nonfederal funds since 2001.”

Additionally, ESCR is pointless because of “recent startling advances in reprogramming adult cells into embryonic-like stem cells – hailed by the journal Science as the scientific breakthrough of the year – are said by many scientists to be making embryonic stem cells irrelevant to medical progress.”

Finally, “adult and cord blood stem cells are now known to have great versatility, and are increasingly being used to reverse serious illnesses and even help rebuild damaged organs. To divert scarce funds away from these promising avenues for research and treatment toward the avenue that is most morally controversial as well as most medically speculative would be a sad victory of politics over science.”

Cardinal Rigali added that “if the government wants to invest in hope for cures and promote ethically sound science, it should use our tax monies for research that everyone, at every stage of human development, can live with."

Also today, the Colorado bishops released a statement saying that the president’s decision “will further erode respect for the dignity of all human life.”

The four bishops wrote that “Embryonic stem cells derive from the living bodies of human embryos. The embryos are killed by the process; thus this type of research involves the wrongful destruction of innocent, developing life.”

They also noted that we as humans can never benefit from this “lethal exploitation.”

“To destroy human embryos for research purposes implies that some lives have more value than others, and that we may sacrifice some lives today so that future generations will benefit. This kind of reasoning is inherently dangerous. Whatever President Obama’s intentions, it is not morally acceptable to do evil hoping that good may eventually result from it.”

Instead, “respect for all human life – including human embryos – should guide all scientific research involving human subjects, as well as the legislative and executive branches of government that decide the funding of medical research,” they stated.

After adding that a treatment has yet to be derived from embryonic stem cells, the Colorado bishops brought their statement to close by urging the President to re-examine the issue, “We ask that all people of good will work to foster a culture that respects the dignity of all human life, from its very beginning to its natural end.”

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