Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the President of the Pontifical Council of Health Care, has responded to reports that President-elect Obama’s future administration will reverse a federal ban on human embryonic stem cell research funding. Saying that the stem cells produced by the destruction of embryos “serve no purpose,” he argued that embryonic stem cell research has not resulted in any significant cures so far and was “good for nothing.”
In comments made to reporters at the presentation of a conference on protecting children from diseases, Cardinal Lozano Barragan added that research on adult stem cells and umbilical cords has been shown to have “positive value,” though he recognized they too were not a “panacea.”
Professor Alberto Ugazio, Coordinator of the Department of Pediatrics in the Child Jesus Hospital of Rome, supported the cardinal’s remarks, saying according to SIR:
“In the medical field, we are always amazed at the excessive fuss ‘the media’ are making over fetal stem cells whose ineffectiveness is proved.”
The speakers endorsed pursuing the results of research into “hematopoietic” stem cells derived from the spinal cord or the umbilical cord. In their view, skin stem cells, hepatic stem cells, and stem cells from other organs had also produced worthy research.
The cardinal also accused the media of showing a “Malthusian mentality” to bring down the birth rate in poor countries, linking that mentality to embryonic research advocacy.
“The Church, instead, reaffirms the concept that human beings cannot be used as means, even at their embryo stage. Human beings always have a purpose,” he added.
According to the Times Online, Cardinal Barragan said the Vatican would seek clarification of President-elect Obama’s administration plans on the issue, saying he himself was not “fully aware” of the specifics.
John Podesta, Obama’s transition team co-chair, recently told Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace that the Bush administration’s ban on embryonic stem cell research funding was “probably not in the interest of our country” and suggested Obama’s administration would have a more permissive policy.