European Union approves funding embryonic stem-cell research

.- The European bishops have denounced the June 15 decision of the European Union Parliament to approve tax spending on embryonic stem-cell research, saying that “human life must never be instrumentalized.”

The vote in the EU came after an Italian government official took Italy's name off of a document signed by several nations that had been blocking the funding, reported LifeNews.com. Italy was formerly a part of a coalition of nations, including Germany, Malta, Slovakia, Poland and Austria, that tried to block the funding.

In a statement, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community  (COMECE) said it objects to the EU decision, noting that such research is controversial and poses a significant moral dilemma.

“This is not just a Catholic position. Scientifically, there is no reason to make a moral distinction between an embryo at the very beginning of his or her life and after implantation in the womb or after 14 days,” reads the statement.

“Every human life begins at conception and needs particular protection if it is created outside the woman’s body. Human life must never be instrumentalized,” the bishops said.

A majority of MEPs favored the embryonic stem-cell research funding proposal. A share of the EU funding for science projects in their 2007-2013 budget will be allocated to embryonic stem cell research. No funds will be spent on human cloning. About $64.3 billion is allocated for scientific projects and health-related issues.

COMECE expressed concern that the money allocated to stem-cell research could have certainly been used for other scientific endeavors.  “In view of the limited resources available for EU research, and taking into account that not all excellent research projects can be financed because of the lack of money, it is even less understandable that this research is to be promoted by the EU as a community,” the Bishops said.

The guidelines from the last budget gave preferential treatment to adult stem-cell research but still funded embryonic stem-cell studies as long as they were not conducted in nations with bans on such funding.

Furthermore, the bishops argued, the EU “has a moral duty to abstain from promoting through joint funding such research prohibited in several member states.” Embryonic stem-cell research is not legal in all EU member states.

The bishops urged the EU Parliament reconsider its decision and to concentrate research efforts on truly common research priorities that are less controversial. The bishops also renewed their support for adult stem cell research.

The Irish bishops urged the Irish government to "take a lead in opposing the destruction of human embryos." The bishops reprimanded the government for its failure on that score, noting that such leadership is something "which regrettably, it has not done so far." 

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