Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
August 20, 2001
U.S. bishops deplore Bush's stem cell stand
NANCY FRAZIER O'BRIEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON — The "trade-off" on embryonic stem-cell research announced Aug. 9 by U.S. President George W. Bush is "morally unacceptable," according to the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Bishop Joseph Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston said he prayed Bush would "return to a principled stand against treating some human lives as nothing more than objects to be manipulated and destroyed for research purposes."
In a nationally televised address, Bush said he would authorize federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research involving only the 60 or so existing stem-cell lines already developed by scientists, because in those cases "the life-and-death decision has already been made."
"This allows us to explore the promise and potential of stem-cell research without crossing a fundamental moral line by providing taxpayer funding that would sanction or encourage further destruction of human embryos that have at least the potential for life," the president added.
Bush also announced his strong opposition to human cloning, his support for "aggressive federal funding of research on umbilical cord, placenta, adult and animal stem cells" and his plans to establish a president's council on stem-cell research.
Fiorenza said Bush's decision means "the federal government, for the first time in history, will support research that relies on the destruction of some defenceless human beings for possible benefit to others."
"However such a decision is hedged about with qualifications, it allows our nation's research enterprise to cultivate a disrespect for human life," he added.
Some Catholics praised Bush for refusing to allow the killing of human embryos for future research, while others said it was morally unacceptable for scientists to experiment with existing stem-cell lines that had been obtained from embryos.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus expressed his organization's "deepest disappointment" at the Bush decision.
"This decision to fund such research is all the more baffling in that ethical avenues to pursue this research - avenues that all can agree upon - are available with adult stem cells," Anderson said.
Noting that adult stem cells "are already being used successfully in human clinical trials," he added, "In marked contrast, embryonic stem cells have never helped a single human patient."
Father Michael Place, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, said that although Bush's decision "could appear as a carefully nuanced solution to a complex issue," it "raises significant moral concerns for our society."
"The continued use of these cultured stem-cell lines by scientists involves complicity in the destruction of embryonic human life," he said.
"A society's use of that which is derived from an immoral action - even for a noble end - must be a source of grave moral concern."
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