.- Cardinal Justin Rigali has urged U.S. senators to reject legislation (S. 5), which would allow federal funding for stem cell research, including stem cells derived from the destruction of embryos. Senators are expected to vote on the bill this week.
In his letter to the Senate, dated April 4, Cardinal Rigali emphasized that the stem cell issue is not a matter of opposing progress. Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities.
“The question is whether our technical progress is guided by an equally advanced sense of the dignity of each and every human life,” the Cardinal wrote. He cited Pope Benedict XVI in saying that research, which relies on the intentional destruction of human life — including human life which is not yet born — is not truly at the service of humanity.
The Cardinal-Archbishop also noted that the results of embryonic stem cell research have not been as positive as had been promised.
“Problems, such as uncontrollable growth and tumor formation, have forced researchers to conclude that it may take a decade or more of very expensive research even to determine whether embryonic stem cells may someday be used to treat a human condition,” he noted.
On the other hand, he added, ethically sound research using adult stem cells has helped patients with more than 70 conditions in clinical trials.
Furthermore, stem cells derived from the byproduct of live births — such as amniotic fluid, placenta, cord blood, and the tissue of the umbilical cord — also show promise and do not pose any ethical problems.
Cardinal Rigali urged senators to reject the current bill and vote in favor of bill S. 30 instead.
S. 30 proposes to fund all stem cell research that does not harm or destroy a human embryo. It also includes a proposal to study the feasibility of banking amniotic and placental stem cells, modeled on the banking of bone marrow and cord blood stem cells.
The full text of the cardinal’s letter is available at: www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/stemcell/s5letter.pdf