Cardinal Justin Rigali, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, has welcomed a bill proposal in the U.S. Congress that would ban the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos. He called the legislation “an opportunity to rein in an egregious and disturbing misuse of technology to undermine human dignity.”
The Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act (H.R. 5910) was introduced in the House on April 24 by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). Identical legislation, Senate Bill 2358, was introduced in the Senate last year by Sam Brownback (R- KS).
Writing in a statement, Cardinal Rigali commended Sen. Brownback and Rep. Smith for their “leadership” in proposing such legislation.
“While this subject may seem like science fiction to many, the threat is all too real,” Cardinal Rigali said. He referenced the United Kingdom’s preparation to authorize the creation of cloned human embryos using human DNA and animal eggs. He said this set the stage for the creation of embryos that are “half-human and half-animal.”
Researchers in New York, the cardinal said, have implanted mouse/human embryonic chimeras into female mice, while California scientists have said they may produce a mouse whose brain is entirely made up of human brain cells.
“Nothing more radically undermines human dignity than a project that can make it impossible to determine what is human and what is not,” Cardinal Rigali said.
The cardinal encouraged members of all political parties to co-sponsor and approve the legislation while there is “still time for sound ethics and policy to place some restraints on the misuse of science.”