Speaking for the nations bishops, Justin Cardinal Rigali, the Archbishop of Philadelphia and chairman of the US Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, responded to President Obama’s March 9th executive order rescinding President Bush’s ban on using taxpayer monies for stem cell research that includes the creation and destruction of human embryos. Here is the text of his statement:
President Obama’s new executive order on embryonic stem cell research is a sad victory of politics over science and ethics. This action is morally wrong because it encourages the destruction of innocent human life, treating vulnerable human beings as mere products to be harvested. It also disregards the values of millions of American taxpayers who oppose research that requires taking human life. Finally, it ignores the fact that ethically sound means for advancing stem cell science and medical treatments are readily available and in need of increased support.
In his January 16th letter to President-elect Obama, Cardinal George, writing as President of the USCCB, cited three reasons why such destructive research is ‘especially pointless at this time’:
- First, basic research in the capabilities of embryonic stem cells can be and is being pursued using the currently eligible cell lines as well as the hundreds of lines produced with nonfederal funds since 2001.
- Second, recent startling advances in reprogramming adult cells into embryonic-like stem cells – hailed by the journal Science as the scientific breakthrough of the year – are said by many scientists to be making embryonic stem cells irrelevant to medical progress.
- Third, adult and cord blood stem cells are now known to have great versatility, and are increasingly being used to reverse serious illnesses and even help rebuild damaged organs. To divert scarce funds away from these promising avenues for research and treatment toward the avenue that is most morally controversial as well as most medically speculative would be a sad victory of politics over science.
If the government wants to invest in hope for cures and promote ethically sound science, it should use our tax monies for research that everyone, at every stage of human development, can live with.
As it turns out, two days later President Obama outlawed what he had just allowed when he signed the federal omnibus spending bill, which again this year included the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. But in the Byzantine world of American politics, things are not always what they appear to be. Scratching below the surface, this article suggests that the recension of the executive ban will only increase pressure to abolish Dickey-Wicker from future spending bills.
Something else to remember . . . these executive and congressional actions affect only the use of federal dollars for research that involves the creation and destruction of human embryos. There are no limits placed on private monies being used for such research. Until embryonic human life is protected by law, it will remain an “ethical” scientific commodity, susceptible to buying and selling, and thus subject to callous creation and destruction.