Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 20, 2002
Bishop blasts McLellan's reproduction bill
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The federal government's new bill on assisted human reproduction is fundamentally flawed because it fails to protect human life from the moment of conception, says the chair of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF).
"To use embryos for stem cell research is to kill them and that's the problem," Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said in a CCN interview May 10. "That's the foundational issue."
The bill, introduced in the House of Commons May 9 by Health Minister Anne McLellan, would ban human cloning, surrogacy and the sale of human sperm and eggs - all proposals that the COLF supports. But it also allows for research on stem cells from human embryos.
Some scientists believe stems cells have the potential to cure a variety of diseases and repair spinal cord injuries. However, extraction of embryonic stem cells, unlike stem cells taken from adult human tissue, always results in the death of the embryo - a human being in the eyes of the Church.
The proposed law would also establish the Assisted Reproduction Agency of Canada with power to issue licences to scientists wishing to conduct embryonic stem cell research and who meet the agency's criteria.
Health Minister Anne McLellan said after tabling the bill, "We believe we have struck a very appropriate balance. Research on human embryos should only be done if this new national agency believes it is necessary for the stated research purpose."
Prendergast said that from the COLF's perspective, the "middle position" allows for the use of embryonic human beings in research and therefore "fails the fundamental test of respect for human beings."
The bill would also permit research on so-called "spare" human embryos left over from infertility treatments, which McLellan said would normally be "thrown into the garbage."
Prendergast took issue with the minister's remark, stating, "I thought that was not a very fitting understanding of human beings."
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada also said it was "deeply disappointed" by the bill's "failure to protect all human life."