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U.S. bishops launch new campaign against embryonic stem cell research
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.- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on Wednesday launched a campaign to oppose embryonic stem cell research and support ethical cures, encouraging citizens to contact Congress and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

After President Barack Obama’s March 9 executive order permitted federal funding for further embryonic stem cell research, the NIH proposed guidelines to fund research that will require stem cells harvested from the destruction of living human embryos.

The draft guidelines are open for public comment through May 26.

The USCCB campaign, titled "Oppose Destructive Stem Cell Research," is facilitated by USCCB partner organization, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment.

According to a USCCB press release, the web site explains why the proposed guidelines are unacceptable, provides links to USCCB resources, and encourages web users to contact Congress and the NIH. Several resources are available in both English and Spanish.

The site says the NIH guidelines would, for the first time, "use taxpayer funds to encourage the killing of embryonic human beings for their stem cells."

"Embryonic stem cell research treats innocent human beings as mere sources of body parts, as commodities for our use," the USCCB site continues.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, is featured in a video at the site in which he critiques the NIH draft guidelines.

"The Catholic bishops of the United States will be writing to Congress and the Administration about the need to restore and maintain barriers against the mistreatment of human life in the name of science, and we urge other concerned citizens to do the same," he said.

A press release from the USCCB explains that Catholics and others are urged to contact both NIH and Congress because members of Congress and the Administration have expressed interest in pursuing an "even broader policy." They reportedly want to obtain stem cells by destroying human embryos specially conceived for research through in-vitro fertilization or cloning procedures.

The campaign characterizes this as a "create to kill" policy.

To visit the campaign web site, see http://www.usccb.org/stemcellcampaign

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