embryonic stem cell research

Cardinal O’Malley: Human Cloning Inconsistent With Human Dignity, Treats People As Products

Human cloning for any purpose is inconsistent with the moral responsibility to “treat each member of the human family as a unique gift of God, as a person with his or her own inherent dignity,” said the chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

“Creating new human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them is an abuse denounced even by many who do not share the Catholic Church’s convictions on human life,” said Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston. He said this way of making embryos will also be taken up by people who want to produce cloned children as “copies” of other people. “Whether used for one purpose or the other, human cloning treats human beings as products, manufactured to order to suit other people’s wishes.” He added, “A technical advance in human cloning is not progress for humanity but its opposite.”

Cardinal O’Malley’s statement responded to the news May 15 that researchers in Oregon have succeeded in producing cloned human embryos and obtained their embryonic stem cells. He added that the researcher’s goal of producing genetically matched stem cells for research and possible therapies is already being addressed by scientific advances that do not pose the same more problems.

More information on USCCB’s position on human cloning is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/cloning/

The full text of Cardinal O’Malley’s statement follows:

The news that researchers have developed a technique for human cloning is deeply troubling on many levels. Over 120 human embryos were created and destroyed, to produce six embryonic stem cell lines. Creating the embryos involved subjecting healthy women to procedures that put their health and fertility at risk. And the researchers’ alleged goal, producing genetically matched stem cells for research and possible therapies, is already being addressed by scientific advances that do not pose these grave moral wrongs.

Creating new human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them is an abuse denounced even by many who do not share the Catholic Church’s convictions on human life. Also, this means of making embryos for research will be taken up by those who want to produce cloned children as “copies” of other people. Whether used for one purpose or the other, human cloning treats human beings as products, manufactured to order to suit other people’s wishes. It is inconsistent with our moral responsibility to treat each member of the human family as a unique gift of God, as a person with his or her own inherent dignity. A technical advance in human cloning is not progress for humanity but its opposite.

University of Mary to Host Seminar Series on Bioethical Challenges

Every day, health care professionals, legal professionals, and clergy are faced with situations that pose serious ethical challenges. This seminar series is presented to assist these professionals and other interested individuals in grappling with some of the major ethical challenges of our time.

This seminar series demonstrates that it is possible for one to be true to science and to faith. The truths of science and the truths of faith have the same source: God. He is the source of all truth, the truths discovered by scientists through the scientific method and the truths followed by disciples through the theological virtue of faith. Therefore, authentic science and authentic faith will always complement — not contradict — one another. They are friends, not foes.

Find out more about the seminar series by downloading the brochure.  Hurry the first seminar is January 20-21.

Critic of Catholic bishops lacks basic understanding of principles

North Dakota Catholic Conference Director responds to Forum letter:

Gene Reierson’s letter (Oct. 30) attacking the Catholic bishops of North Dakota contains several inaccurate claims and lacks a basic understanding of the principles at stake.

Read the letter . . .

Respect Life Month Statement

Cardinal DiNardo calls on Catholics to respect, promote and teach

the ‘transcendent nature of the human person’

Catholics must not shrink from obligation to defend right to life, conscience rights

Respect Life Program marks 40th year

Theme for 2011-12:  “I came so all might have life and have it to the full” (cf. John 10:10)

 

CARDINAL DINARDO ISSUES RESPECT LIFE MONTH STATEMENT

WASHINGTON-In a statement to mark Respect Life Month, October 2011, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston addressed multiple direct threats to human life as well as threats to religious liberty and conscience rights. Echoing Pope Benedict XVI, he invited Catholics to “pray and reflect on how each of us might renew our commitment and witness to ‘respecting, promoting and teaching the transcendent nature of the human person.'”

Cardinal DiNardo chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

In his statement, Cardinal DiNardo reflected on the Respect Life Program’s theme for 2011-12: “I came that all might have life and have it to the full.” “Jesus’ promise of ‘life to the full’ is especially poignant today,” he wrote, “when our culture and sometimes our government promote values inimical to the happiness and true good of individuals and society.”

“The unborn child, the aging parent who some call a ‘burden’ on our medical system, the allegedly ‘excess’ embryo in the fertility clinic, the person with a disability, the cognitively impaired accident victim who needs assistance in receiving food and water to live-each today is at risk of being dismissed as a ‘life unworthy of life’,” Cardinal DiNardo said.

Cardinal DiNardo highlighted factors that undermine efforts to build a culture of life: “We face increasing attempts to expunge God and religious discourse from public life. . Some now even seek to eliminate religiously motivated people and organizations from public programs, by forcing them to violate their moral and religious convictions or stop serving the needy,” he said.

Cardinal DiNardo objected to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requirement to cover all forms of contraception and sterilization as “preventive services for women.” “The decision [by HHS] is wrong on many levels. Preventive services are aimed at preventing diseases (e.g., by vaccinations) or detecting them early to aid prompt treatment (e.g., screening for diabetes or cancer). But pregnancy is not a disease.. Mandating such coverage shows neither respect for women’s health or freedom, nor respect for the consciences of those who do not want to take part in such problematic initiatives,” he said.

Cardinal DiNardo specifically countered claims that contraception is necessary for women’s health, and that it reduces the abortion rate. “Far from preventing disease, contraceptives can have serious health consequences of their own, for example, increasing the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease, such as AIDS.,” he said. “Studies report that most women seeking abortions were using contraception in the month they became pregnant. Again and again, studies show that increasing access to contraception fails to reduce rates of unplanned pregnancies and abortions.”

The HHS’s “religious employer exemption” is “so extremely narrow that it protects almost no one,” he said. “Jesus himself, or the Good Samaritan of his famous parable, would not qualify as ‘religious enough’ for the exemption, since they insisted on helping people who did not share their view of God.”

“Catholics must not shrink from the obligation to assert the values and principles we hold essential to the common good, beginning with the right to life of every human being and the right of every woman and man to express and live by his or her religious beliefs and well-formed conscience.”

Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program stresses the value and dignity of human life. It is observed in the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States. The full statement follows and may be found online in English and Spanish at www.usccb.org/respectlife.

 

Statement for Respect Life Month

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo

Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

September 26, 2011

 

This October the Catholic Church throughout the United States will observe Respect Life Month, an annual tradition now in its fortieth year.

Beginning on October 2, 2011-Respect Life Sunday-Catholics across the nation will join together to witness to the inherent equality and transcendent value of every human being.

In countless liturgies and events we will give thanks to God for the gift of human life, and pray for his guidance and blessings on our efforts to defend the most vulnerable members of the human family.

We will voice our opposition to the injustice and cruelty of abortion on behalf of those victims whose voices have been silenced. At the same time, we will remind the living victims of abortion-the mothers and fathers who grieve the loss of an irreplaceable child-that God’s mercy is greater than any human sin, and that healing and peace can be theirs through the  sacrament of reconciliation and the Church’s Project Rachel Ministry.

The theme chosen for this year’s Respect Life Program is I came so that all might have life and have it to the full. In this brief explanation of his mission (cf. John 10:10), Jesus refers both to our hope of eternal life, to be restored through his death and resurrection, and to our life in this world.

By following Jesus’ new Commandment of unselfish love, our lives can be richly fulfilling, and marked by joy and peace. In contrast, treating others as either means or obstacles to one’s self-serving goals, while never learning to love generously, is an impoverished way to live.

Viewing life as a “zero sum” game, in which advancing one’s interests requires putting aside the needs of others, can lead to callous unconcern for anyone who is especially weak, defenseless, and in need of our help. The unborn child, the aging parent who some call a “burden” on our medical system, the allegedly “excess” embryo in the fertility clinic, the person with a disability, the cognitively impaired accident victim who needs assistance in receiving food and water to live-each today is at risk of being dismissed as a “life unworthy of life.”

Jesus’ promise of “life to the full” is especially poignant today, when our culture and sometimes our government promote values inimical to the happiness and true good of individuals and society. We face increasing attempts to expunge God and religious discourse from public life. This promotes the dangerous proposition that human beings enjoy no special status by virtue of their God-given humanity. Some now even seek to eliminate religiously motivated people and organizations from public programs, by forcing them to violate their moral and religious convictions or stop serving the needy.

The same forces, aided by advertising and entertainment media, promote a selfish and demeaning view of human sexuality, by extolling the alleged good of sexual activity without love or commitment. This view of sex as “free” of commitment or consequences has no place for openness to new life. Hence contraceptives are promoted even to young teens as though they were essential to women’s well-being, and abortion defended as the “necessary” back-up plan when contraceptives fail. And fail they do. Studies report that most women seeking abortions were using contraception in the month they became pregnant. Again and again, studies show that increasing access to contraception fails to reduce rates of unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

Both these trends-a distorted view of sexuality and a disdain for the role of religion-are exhibited by the Department of Health and Human Services’ recent decision on the “preventive services” to be mandated in virtually all private health plans under the new health care law. The Department ruled that such mandated services will include surgical sterilization and all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices-including the abortifacient drug “Ella,” a close analogue to the abortion pill RU-486.

The decision is wrong on many levels. Preventive services are aimed at preventing diseases (e.g., by vaccinations) or detecting them early to aid prompt treatment (e.g., screening for diabetes or cancer). But pregnancy is not a disease. It is the normal, healthy state by which each of us came into the world. Far from preventing disease, contraceptives can have serious health consequences of their own, for example, increasing the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease, such as AIDS, increasing the risk of breast cancer from excess estrogen, and of blood clots that can lead to stroke from synthetic progestin. Mandating such coverage shows neither respect for women’s health or freedom, nor respect for the consciences of those who do not want to take part in such problematic initiatives.

The “religious employer” exemption offered by the Department is so extremely narrow that it protects almost no one. Catholic institutions providing health care and other services to the needy could be forced to fire their non-Catholic employees and cease serving the poor and vulnerable of other faiths-or stop providing health coverage at all. It has been said that Jesus himself, or the Good Samaritan of his famous parable, would not qualify as “religious enough” for the exemption, since they insisted on helping people who did not share their view of God.

All these misguided efforts to foster false values among our youth, to silence the voice of moral truth in the public domain, and to deprive believers of their constitutionally-protected right to live according to their religious convictions, must be resisted by education, public advocacy, and above all by prayer.

The founders of our nation understood that religion and morality are essential to the survival of a freedom-loving society. John Adams expressed this conviction, stating: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”

Catholics must not shrink from the obligation to assert the values and principles we hold essential to the common good, beginning with the right to life of every human being and the right of every woman and man to express and live by his or her religious beliefs and well-formed conscience.

As Pope Benedict XVI reminded us last year in one of his Ad Limina addresses to visiting bishops, “a society can be built only by tirelessly respecting, promoting and teaching the transcendent nature of the human person.” That common nature transcends all accidental differences of age, race, strength, or conditions of dependency, preparing us to be one human family under God.

During this Respect Life Month, as we celebrate God’s great gift of life, let us pray and reflect on how each of us might renew our commitment and witness to “respecting, promoting and teaching the transcendent nature of the human person,” thereby shoring up the foundations of a society sorely in need of this guidance.

 

NCHLA Provides Social Media Tools

The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment is the grassroots pro-life arm of the U.S. Catholic Bishops.  NCHLA recently updated its options for staying informed and active through social media.

1. E-mail Action Alert Sharing: The NCHLA Grassroots Action Center has a share feature with access to more than 300 social media sites. Action Alerts links are pre-positioned on the various social media sites for users on those sites to share with others.

2. Twitter: NCHLA has had a Twitter page for almost two years. Some call Twitter a microblogging social media. It is especially useful for communication of limited, concise messages. Through “tweets” NCHLA sends out notices about new Action Alerts, updates on legislation, new NCHLA programs, and the like. If you are signed up on Twitter, please consider becoming a follower of NCHLA and receive these “tweets.” To visit NCHLA’s Twitter page, click here:
Twitter.com/nchla.

3. RSS Feeds: Even if you are not signed up on Twitter, you can receive NCHLA “tweets” through something called RSS feeds. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Programs called “feed reader” are probably already on your computer (e.g., on Outlook, My Yahoo, or Gmail). Using a feed reader program you can easily create a link between NCHLA’s Twitter page and your e-mail program. In this way you will be notified every time NCHLA sends a “tweet.” For more information on RSS feeds, see:
nchla.org/docdisplay2.asp?id=253.

4. Facebook: NCHLA has recently established a Facebook page. Some place Facebook under social networking media. It is especially useful for a range of personal communication functions. As an organization, NCHLA will use Facebook to send out various kinds of information related to NCHLA programs, similar to what we do on Twitter, but in the manner suited to the Facebook format.  If you are a member of Facebook, please consider “liking” NCHLA’s page. This will enable you to receive the full benefits of this new page. To visit NCHLA’s Facebook page, click here:
facebook.com/pages/The-National-Committee-for-a-Human-Life-Amendment-and-EndRoeorg/102089606535613.

Bishop Samuel Aquila: “There can be no backing away in the public square from the call to proclaim the dignity of human life”

In a talk presented at the Sept. 22 Gospel of Life Prayer Breakfast in St. Louis, Mo., Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, said, “There can be no backing away in the public square from the call to proclaim the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death.”

The prayer breakfast was sponsored by the St. Louis chapter of Legatus, a lay organization of Catholic business and professional leaders. The text of Bishop Aquila’s talk is posted at http://www.fargodiocese.org/bishop/Homilies/GospelOfLifeInTheChurchAndWorld.pdf.

Bishop Aquila addressed “attacks against life” in society today, including legalized abortion, euthanasia, fertility treatments that disregard the dignity of human embryos, embryonic stem cell research, “unjust distribution of resources, rampant promiscuity that diminishes the truth and meaning of human sexual intimacy, human trafficking, drug trafficking” and terrorism. He also spoke of the tragedy of professed Catholics and Christians who say they are personally opposed to abortion yet publicly support the so-called “right” to abortion.

“In order to be pro-life,” Bishop Aquila said, “we must understand both the inherent dignity of human life and develop a critical eye as to the thoughts and ideas which undermine the truth.”

He thanked the doctors, nurses and pharmacists present “who have refused to participate in abortions or the distribution of abortifacient drugs. You are a true witness to the Gospel of Life and a true leaven in creating a ‘culture of life’.”

Bishop Aquila reviewed the teachings of Pope John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium vitae, The Gospel of Life, emphasizing the pope’s words regarding intrinsically unjust laws. “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is…never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it’ (EV 73).” After reading the quote, Bishop Aquila noted, “Unfortunately for some Catholics in the civil arena, this teaching has fallen on ears that would rather listen to the voice of the father of lies than to the truth of Jesus Christ and the life he alone offers. Rather than being a leaven in the world for the common good of the world they become cooperators with the ‘culture of death’.”

He spoke of the challenge of promoting a ‘culture of life’ in society. “Catholics in the political arena today are too often more faithful to party platforms and partisanship than to their faith in Jesus Christ, his Church and the promotion of a ‘culture of life’. There is a false separation between one’s private life and faith and one’s public life and faith. This started with President Kennedy as he ran for the presidency. As citizens we must take seriously our opportunities to vote and to provide an encouraging witness to those who represent us through letters, calls, emails and other forms of communication.”

He noted that Catholics “must recognize that opposition to intrinsic evils, such as abortion, euthanasia, genocide, embryonic stem-cell research and same sex unions is always required by the faithful Catholic. Because these intrinsic evils are direct attacks on human life and marital dignity, they are non-negotiable for every Catholic.”

He continued, “Every Catholic who supports intrinsic evils is reminded that they will one day stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account of themselves and how they lived the Gospel of Life. Furthermore, if they obstinately maintain their support for pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia measures they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion and causing scandal to the faithful of the Church. One sees in the Gospel too that Jesus was most unyielding with those who were obstinate to his message. One has only to read the twenty-third chapter of Matthew. If a Catholic has continuously publicly supported so called abortion rights they are obstinate to the teaching of Christ and His Church. They need to ponder in their hearts the question that Jesus raises with the obstinate. In firm love he asks, ‘how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?’ (Mt 23:33). At the same time, as pro-life Catholics, we must have concern for immigrants, the suffering, the sick and the poor.  We must work for the avoidance of war, the elimination of the death penalty and an end to drug-trafficking.  If we are truly going to be pro-life and build a true culture of life, all of these are matters of concern.”

USCCB Pro-Life Committee Chairman Issues Statement For Respect Life Month

In a statement to mark Respect Life Month, October 2010, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston addressed direct threats to human life and called Catholics to “constantly witness to the inestimable worth and dignity of each human life through a loving concern for the good of others.” He also encouraged participation in the worldwide “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” called for by Pope Benedict XVI at the start of Advent.

Cardinal DiNardo chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

In his statement, Cardinal DiNardo noted populations particularly at risk: millions of unborn children in the womb, embryonic human beings destroyed “in the name of science,” and seriously ill patients “under threat from a renewed campaign for legalizing physician-assisted suicide.”

“The loss of even one child, and the pain experienced by the child’s mother and father in the aftermath of abortion, should impel us to redouble our efforts to end legal abortion,” Cardinal DiNardo said. He stressed the need “to ensure that every pregnant woman has whatever help she needs to turn away from this heartbreaking choice.” He highlighted Project Rachel, the Church’s healing ministry to women and men hurting after abortion, and called the ministry “a reflection of God’s love and mercy and His constant offer of forgiveness and healing.”

Cardinal DiNardo also noted the “urgent task” of “ensuring that health care reform … is not misused to promote abortion or to trample on the rights of conscience.”

“If we allow the dignity of every human life to guide the decisions we make as voters and public policy advocates, we can surely succeed in creating a more just and humane society,” Cardinal DiNardo said.

Cardinal DiNardo cited Pope Benedict’s “unprecedented request” for Catholics throughout the world to observe a “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” on Saturday, November 27.

“I heartily encourage all Catholics, whether at home or traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays, to take part in this special prayer, whose purpose according to the Holy See,” he said, “is to ‘thank the Lord for his total self-giving to the world and for his Incarnation which gave every human life its real worth and dignity,’ and to ‘invoke the Lord’s protection over every human being called into existence’.”

Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program stresses the value and dignity of human life. It is observed in the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States. This year’s theme is “The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.” The full statement follows and may be found online at www.usccb.org/prolife/programs/rlp/10dinardo-stmt.pdf.

STATEMENT FOR RESPECT LIFE MONTH Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities United States Conference of Catholic Bishops September 27, 2010

During the Respect Life Month of October, Catholics across the United States will gather in prayer and thanksgiving, at charitable and educational events, and in public witness to the unique and priceless value of every human life, guided by the theme for this year’s Respect Life Program: “The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.” With each passing year, the need for personal and public witness grounded in God’s boundless love for each and every human being grows more urgent.

With over one million innocent children dying from abortion each year, the plague of abortion remains embedded in our culture. It is encouraging to see the continuing decline nationwide in the number and rate of abortions—due in large part to fewer teens becoming sexually active, and to growing recognition of the humanity of the unborn child. Yet the loss of even one child, and the pain experienced by the child’s mother and father in the aftermath of abortion, should impel us to redouble our efforts to end legal abortion, and to ensure that every pregnant woman has whatever help she needs to turn away from this heartbreaking choice.

For those the pro-life community could not reach and assist before they underwent an abortion, the Catholic Church throughout the United States offers compassionate, confidential counseling through its Project Rachel ministry. In contacting Project Rachel, no one need fear that they will encounter anything less than a reflection of God’s love and mercy and His constant offer of forgiveness and healing.

In many areas of public policy, the rift continues to widen between the moral principles expressed by a majority of Americans and the actions of government. For example, Americans oppose public funding of abortion by wide margins, with 67% opposing federal funding of abortion in health care in one recent poll. In early 2009, Catholics and others sent over 33 million postcards, and countless e-mails and letters to Members of Congress, urging them to “retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.”

Yet in March of this year, Congress passed a health care reform law that allows for federal funding of abortion in some programs and could pressure millions of Americans to help subsidize other people’s abortions through their health care premiums. Ensuring that health care reform will meet the urgent needs for which it has been proposed, and is not misused to promote abortion or to trample on rights of conscience, will be an urgent task in the coming year.

Defenseless human life is also placed at risk today in the name of science, when researchers seek to destroy human life at its embryonic stage for stem cell research—and demand the use of all Americans’ tax dollars to support this agenda. In a recent poll commissioned by the Catholic bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, 57 percent of respondents favored funding only stem cell research avenues that do not harm the donor, using stem cells from cord blood, placentas, and other “adult” tissues; only 21 percent favor funding all stem cell research, including research that requires killing embryonic human beings. Yet the current Administration issued guidelines last year to fund human embryonic stem cell research, and some in Congress are preparing legislation to ensure continued funding despite a federal court’s finding that these guidelines may violate the law.

At the other end of life, seriously ill patients are again under threat from a renewed campaign for legalizing physician-assisted suicide. Instead of addressing these patients’ real problems by providing love, support and relief of suffering, this agenda urges us to eliminate the patient as though he or she is the problem. Marching under the false banner of “compassion” and “choice,” it raises the fearsome prospect of a future in which the only “choice” cheerfully granted to our most vulnerable patients is a lethal overdose of drugs.

Becoming a voice for the child in the womb, and for the embryonic human being at risk of becoming a mere object of research, and for the neglected sick and elderly is one of many ways we can teach our fellow citizens that “The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.” While critics want to portray the Church’s witness as a narrow and negative ideology, it is just the opposite: A positive vision of the dignity of each and every human being without exception, each loved equally by God and so equally deserving of our love and our nation’s respect.

Because we are created in the image of God, who is Love, our identity and vocation is to love sacrificially for the sake of others. Pope Benedict XVI has called this “the key to [our] entire existence.” In a homily during his recent visit to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict reminded us that “our hearts can easily be hardened by selfishness, envy and pride,” and that “pure and generous love is the fruit of a daily decision.” Every day, he reminded us, “we have to choose to love.” In our homes, schools, workplaces, and in public, if we constantly witness to the inestimable worth and dignity of each human life through a loving concern for the good of others, if we allow the dignity of every human life to guide the decisions we make as voters and public policy advocates, we can surely succeed in creating a more just and humane society.

Our efforts, of course, must always be undergirded with prayer—the silent space for personal daily prayer that allows us to hear God’s voice deep in our hearts, and communal prayer that asks God to transform our culture into one that welcomes every human person.

Recently Pope Benedict made an unprecedented request for such prayer, by asking that Catholic bishops throughout the world, and all parishes and religious communities, observe a “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” on the evening of Saturday, November 27, 2010. The U.S. bishops’ offices for pro-life activities and for divine worship will be working together to provide worship aids to assist pastors in planning these vigil services.

Speaking for the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, I heartily encourage all Catholics, whether at home or traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays, to take part in this special prayer, whose purpose according to the Holy See is to “thank the Lord for his total self-giving to the world and for his Incarnation which gave every human life its real worth and dignity,” and to “invoke the Lord’s protection over every human being called into existence.”

May God bless all who work tirelessly to build a culture of respect for every human life, from conception to natural death.

New Poll: Americans Continue To Oppose Tax Funding For Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Support Ethical Alternatives

WASHINGTON— As the U.S. Senate prepares to hold a hearing on human embryonic stem cell research (hESCR), a new public opinion poll shows that a plurality of Americans (47 percent) oppose federal funding of stem cell research that involves destroying human embryos, while only thirty-eight percent (38 percent) support such funding. The poll, conducted by ICR / International Communications Research, surveyed 1,006 adults September 8-14. It was commissioned by the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Survey respondents were informed that stem cells can also be obtained from adults, placentas from live births and other ways that do no harm to the donor, and that scientists disagree on whether stem cells from embryos or from such alternative sources may end up being most successful in treating diseases. Fifty-seven percent (57 percent) favor funding only the research avenues that do not harm the donor, while only twenty-one percent (21 percent) favored funding all stem cell research, including research that involves killing embryonic human beings.

“The Senate should not be misled on this important issue,” said Richard M. Doerflinger, Associate Director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. “Most Americans do not support federally funded research that requires destroying human embryos. They want their tax dollars used for stem cell research that is ethically sound as well as medically promising – the kind of research that has attracted the interest and commitment of more and more stem cell experts in recent years.”

The new poll also shows continued overwhelming opposition to human cloning, whether to provide children for infertile couples (83 percent against) or to produce embryos that would be destroyed in medical research (76 percent against).

A comparison with three identical polls conducted by ICR in August 2004, May 2005, and May 2006 shows a consistent level of moral concern on this issue on the part of the American public. Federally funded hESCR has never garnered majority support in this poll, starting at a high of 43 percent over six years ago in August 2004. When informed of their options, most Americans consistently support funding only stem cell research that does not require destroying embryos. The ICR polls also consistently show opposition of 76 percent or higher to human cloning, whether for reproduction or medical research.

The survey was conducted September 8-14, 2010, among a random national sample of 1,006adults ages 18 and older. Sampling, data collection and tabulation were provided by ICR / International Communications Research of Media, Pa. The four poll questions, results and methodology follow.

ICR / International Communications Research
Stem Cell Research Study
September 8-14, 2010

SC-1.    Stem cells are the basic cells from which all of a person’s tissues and organs develop. Congress is considering the question of federal funding for experiments using stem cells from human embryos. The live embryos would be destroyed in their first week of development to obtain these cells. Do you support or oppose using your federal tax dollars for such experiments?

Support                                                                            382                       38%
Oppose                                                                             478                       47%
Don’t Know                                                                       115                       11%
Refused                                                                              31                         3%

SC-2.    Stem cells for research can be obtained by destroying human embryos. They can also be obtained from adults, from placentas left over from live births, and in other ways that do no harm to the donor. Scientists disagree on which source may end up being most successful in treating diseases. How would you prefer your tax dollars to be used this year for stem cell research?

Supporting all methods, including those that
require destroying human embryos,
to see which will be most successful                               208                       21%

Supporting research using adult stem cells
and other alternatives, to see if there is
no need to destroy human embryos for research             576                       57%

(VOLUNTEERED) Neither                                              88                         9%
Don’t Know                                                                  105                       10%
Refused                                                                        29                         3%

SC-3.    Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to try to create children for infertile couples?

Yes                                                                                    88                         9%
No                                                                                    839                       83%
Don’t Know                                                                         59                         6%
Refused                                                                              20                         2%

SC-4.    Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to create a supply of human embryos to be destroyed in medical research?

Yes                                                                                  125                       12%
No                                                                                   767                       76%
Don’t Know                                                                     91                         9%
Refused                                                                            23                         2%

The survey was conducted September 8 – 14, 2010, among a random national sample of 1,006adults ages 18 and older. Respondents were selected using an address-based random sample design. Households for which a phone number could be ascertained were contacted by phone; others were contacted by mail and asked to complete the survey via a toll-free inbound phone number or the internet. Results for the full sample have a 3.07-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by ICR / International Communications Research of Media, Pa.

Bishops Welcome Ruling Against Embryonic Stem Cell Funding, Urge Government To Pursue Ethical Stem Cell Research

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed the federal court injunction against the Obama administration’s funding of human embryonic stem cell research, calling the ruling a “victory for common sense and sound medical ethics.”  He said this ruling also vindicates the bishops’ reading of the Dickey amendment, the amendment approved by Congress since 1996, which prevents federal funding of research in which human embryos are harmed or destroyed.
“I hope this court decision will encourage our government to renew and expand its commitment to ethically sound avenues of stem cell research,” Cardinal DiNardo added. “These avenues are showing far more promise than destructive human embryo research in serving the needs of suffering patients.”
The full statement follows:
The preliminary injunction against the Obama administration’s funding of human embryonic stem cell research is a welcome victory for common sense and sound medical ethics.  It also vindicates a reading of Congress’s statutory language on embryo research that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has defended for more than a decade.

Each year since 1996, Congress has approved the Dickey amendment to forbid funding any “research in which” human embryos are harmed or destroyed.  This should ensure that taxpayers are not forced to fund a research project when pursuing that project requires the destruction of human life at its earliest stage.  However, beginning with a legal memo commissioned by the Clinton administration in January 1999, this law has been distorted and narrowed to allow federal funding of research that directly relies on such destruction.  As the bishops’ conference said in congressional testimony in 1999, “a mere bookkeeping distinction between funds used to destroy the embryo and funds used to work with the resultant cells is not sufficient” to comply with the law.  In the health care reform debate, as well, we have pointed out that an executive order by itself cannot change the meaning of a law passed by Congress, and that the longstanding policy against funding health plans that cover abortion is not satisfied, but circumvented, by a bookkeeping distinction that merely segregates accounts within such plans.

A task of good government is to use its funding power to direct resources where they will best serve and respect human life, not to find new ways to evade this responsibility. I hope this court decision will encourage our government to renew and expand its commitment to ethically sound avenues of stem cell research. These avenues are showing far more promise than destructive human embryo research in serving the needs of suffering patients.