Pro-life groups call Frist’s stem cell proposal a ‘betrayal’

.- Numerous pro-life and Christian organizations are still shocked by Friday’s announcement by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, that he thinks more federal funding should be spent on embryonic stem cell research.

The Tennessee Senator announced on the Senate floor, Friday that he believes President Bush’s stem cell policy should be “modified” to allow for expanded federal funding for stem cell research. He noted that while “I believe human life begins at conception”, he said, “I also believe that embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported.''

Lanier Swann, director of government relations for Concerned Women for America said that, "It is mystery to us how the senator could claim that he believes life begins at conception and then immediately contradict that statement by adding, 'I also believe embryonic stem-cell research should be encouraged and supported.' It certainly gives one pause in trusting his commitment to the sanctity of life."

"While we respect the senator's desire to support a science that offers hope to ailing patients,” she said, “we want to respectfully remind him that that hope already exists through the numerous advancements in adult stem-cell research (ASCR). While ESCR has yet to yield one result, more than 65 diseases have already been successfully treated through the safe and morally unquestionable research of adult stem cells.”

“Adult stem-cell research”, she added, “offers the promise of cures, not the mere 'dream' Frist spoke of today. A 'dream' of cures through ESCR is a nightmare for the unborn.”

Catholic Bishops of Pennsylvania also cited the ‘Vatican Instruction on Respect for Human Life’ document in a statement Friday which says that “no objective, even though noble in itself, such as a foreseeable advantage to science, to other human beings, or to society, can in any way justify experimentation on living human embryos or fetuses, whether viable or not, either inside or outside the mother's body."

Executive Director of the Christian Medical Association, David Stevens, M.D. said , "We deeply regret Sen. Frist's endorsement of an embryonic stem cell research policy that would turn living human beings into commodities for exploitation. We have appreciated the senator's thoughtful and principled stances on life issues in the past and are extremely disappointed to see what we consider a crucial moral lapse on this critical issue."

"As physicians,” he continued, “we understand the pressure to seek treatments from all possible sources, but we must remain committed to insuring that life-honoring ethics guide our decisions. Treating living human embryos as mere fodder for experimentation crosses a vital ethical line and contravenes the sanctity of human life.”

"The ends never justifies the means. Seeking cures for patients is an admirable goal, but it must never be done at the expense of other human lives.

Rev. Rob Schenck, head of the National Clergy Council said that, "In saying that he believes life begins at conception but that he supports embryonic stem cell research, Senator Frist's position not only contradicts itself, it flies in the face of biblical and historical Christian moral teaching. It's the same as saying that we should use condemned criminals for medical experimentation because they're going to die anyway.”

He called the statement “morally incoherent,” and said that “Senator Frist can no longer count on our support nor the support of the wider Evangelical or Catholic communities."

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