Cardinal urges Congress to reject bill supporting embryonic stem-cell research

.- Cardinal William H. Keeler has urged Congress to reject a bill, which would allow the use of federal funds to support research that involves the use of new human embryos from fertility clinics. H.R. 810 would rescind the Bush administration’s policy of funding only research on embryonic stem-cell lines already in existence.

“Government has no business forcing taxpayers to become complicit in the direct destruction of human life at any stage,” Cardinal Keeler said in a May 17 letter to the House of Representatives. Cardinal Keeler is Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The cardinal noted that since 1995 Congress has passed — and presidents of both major parties have signed — annual riders insisting that early human embryos be protected from risk of harm or death in federally funded research projects.

But the argument for funding embryonic stem-cell research is doubly flawed, wrote the cardinal, because adult stem cells and other avenues posing no moral problem have advanced quickly toward human clinical trials to treat juvenile diabetes, corneal damage, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, sickle-cell anemia, cardiac damage and many other conditions.

“The current federal policy of funding research on a limited number of existing embryonic stem-cell lines has achieved its stated goal -- that of exploring which avenues of stem cell research will most quickly and effectively lead to promising treatments,” Cardinal Keeler stated.

“The emerging answer is that embryonic stem-cell research is not one of those avenues,” he concluded. “If there is to be any change in the existing policy, it should be to end this limited funding of embryonic stem-cell research altogether, so taxpayers’ resources can more effectively be marshaled for research now showing itself to be more ethically and medically sound.”


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