Church teaching is clear, consistent on embryonic stem cell research, expert says

In the latest edition of the on-line magazine, ‘The Window’, editor Deal Hudson challenges the thinking of many Catholic politicians who support issues like abortion and embryonic stem cell research, showing readers how to tackle these debates themselves.

Hudson says that the crux of the problem lay in semantics. He cites Massachusetts State Representative Dan Bosley, a Catholic, who recently affirmed that while he believes that life begins at conception, he thinks that, “Conception begins the fourteenth day after fertilization. It also cannot begin until implantation."

Hudson points out that this confusion of terminology is in fact, in conflict with Catholic Church teaching.

“The United States Conference of Bishops”, he writes, “has warned us about the ‘manipulation of terms.’”

“In debate over the ‘morning-after pill’, the bishops pointed out that medical groups such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) had supported pro-abortion groups in changing the definition of conception. ‘Instead of equating conception with fertilization, and seeing a woman as pregnant if her body contains a living, developing embryo, they equate ‘conception’ and ‘pregnancy’ with the implantation of the embryo in the uterus 6 to 10 days later.’”

Some critics, including Bosley, charge the Church with flip-flopping in its definition of conception, thus sparking much of the confusion.

Hudson however, illustrates that the Church has remained firm in its definition, citing a number of references from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which he calls “the doctrinal standard for every Catholic.”

He cites Catechism paragraph 1711, which says, "Endowed with a spiritual soul, with intellect and with free will, the human person is from his very conception ordered to God and destined for eternal beatitude. He pursues his perfection in 'seeking and loving what is true and good,’” and paragraph 2274, which says, "Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being."

“Bosley”, Hudson says, “either does not know or he rejects these teachings. He adds to his defense of embryonic research by saying, ‘Yes, we all came from embryos, but not all embryos become life.’

Hudson points out that, “This is like saying that since some children never reach adolescence we can use their body parts for medical research.”

He continues, criticizing Bosley’s stance on embryonic stem cell research and cloning, likening them to Nazi mentalities, which suggested that the ultimate utility of a person should reign supreme. “If good can come from it,” he says, “why can't we experiment on live human beings?”

Hudson notes that many Catholic politicians, who support these “affronts on life”, as pro-life advocates see them, think that the Church is misleading them. He stresses however, that they are indeed being misled—but not by the Church.

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