Michigan Catholic Conference calls for honest dialogue in bioethics debate

.- The Michigan Catholic Conference called on state legislators to engage in honest dialogue with citizens regarding proposed measures in favor of embryonic stem-cell research and human cloning.

According to the conference, legislators have failed to communicate to the public the “Pandora's box” of ethical and moral issues that accompany such legislation.

"It is utterly disingenuous for any elected official to discuss embryonic stem-cell research and Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer without addressing the fact that human embryos must be purposefully cloned and killed for the process to be successful," said Paul Long, conference vice president for public policy, in a statement.

"By using euphemisms such as 'therapeutic cloning,' or by expressing the need to strengthen an existing human cloning ban, supporters of these measures are deceiving the public," he said.

The Michigan Catholic Conference is calling on legislators to address the fact that proposed legislation would amend current statutes and allow for human embryos to be cloned — a necessary component of Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer — then killed to extract the embryo's stem cell lines.

The conference also wants legislators to use straight talk and admit that “therapeutic cloning” and “reproductive cloning” are really the same thing. “Regardless of the purpose for which it is used, ‘therapeutic cloning’ is a euphemism and friendly term applied to soften the reception of the fact that human embryos are being cloned and killed,” says the statement issued by the conference.

Legislators should also consider the public opinion polls, which indicate that the majority of Americans do not support federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, the conference says.

In addition, legislators must acknowledge that “there are not hundreds of thousands of spare embryos that are going to be ‘just thrown out,’” as some supporters of embryonic stem-cell research claim, the conference says.

“In fact, more than 85 percent of frozen embryos have been designated for family building purposes, with less than 5 percent designated for research purposes,” reads a statement issued by the conference. “Of those designated for research purposes, scientists disagree on just how many will actually survive the thawing process.”

Michigan Catholic Conference has repeatedly expressed its support for adult stem-cell research, which has already helped to treat over 70 different conditions and which does not pose any ethical dilemmas. 

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