Commenting on the final guidelines on Human Stem Cell Research published by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) last week, Philadelphia Archbishop Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said “The comments of tens of thousands of Americans opposing the destruction of innocent human life for stem cell research were simply ignored in this process. Even comments filed by the Catholic bishops’ conference and others against specific abuses in the draft guidelines were not addressed.”
According to the NIH, 49,000 comments were filed on the draft guidelines. In its action alert urging Catholics to file their own objections to the proposed guidelines, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said, “This marks a new chapter in divorcing biomedical research from its necessary ethical foundation, respect for human life at all stages. Embryonic stem cell research treats innocent human beings as mere sources of body parts, as commodities for our use. ”
In an April statement regarding the draft guidelines, Cardinal Rigali noted that, “For the first time, federal tax dollars will be used to encourage destruction of living embryonic human beings for stem cell research – including human beings who otherwise would have survived and been born.” In his comments last week, Cardinal Rigali noted that the final guidelines are broader (and therefore more destructive) than even the draft guidelines. In concluding, he urged Americans to contact their representatives in Congress to urge them “not to codify or further expand this unethical policiy.”
For more information on stem cell research, please see Stem Cells Q&A and the Pennsylvania Bishops’ 2005 statement, Questions and Answers on Stem Cell Research.