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National Catholic Bioethics Center Applauds President Bush's Call for Respect Toward Human Embryos as 'Living Members of the Human Species'

Contact: Mark Bradford, The National Catholic Bioethics Center, 215-877-2660


PHILADELPHIA, June 21 /Christian Newswire/ -- The National Catholic Bioethics Center has been vigorous in promoting the dignity of human life, from conception until natural death. In the Center's April 9, 2007 letter to the United States Congress asking its members to oppose S. 5, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, the Center indicated its support for stem cell research and therapies that provide healing without causing the death of other vulnerable human beings in the process.

There is a growing body of scientific knowledge on effective and morally acceptable methods to accomplish this end. Unfortunately, Congress has refused to acknowledge this fact by refusing to support S. 30, the HOPE Act, which would have promoted morally acceptable forms of stem cell research, by funding all avenues of stem cell research that do not involve harming or destroying a living human embryo. Unlike S. 5, it gives priority to research that promises genuine benefits for patients rather than speculative embryo research. On June 21, 2007, President Bush vetoed S. 5. At the same time, with a stated intent of prioritizing "research with the greatest potential for clinical benefit," President Bush issued an executive order fostering research on these morally acceptable alternative sources of pluripotent stem cells ("Expanding Approved Stem Cell Lines in Ethically Responsible Ways"). In doing so, President Bush prohibited federal funding of research that subjects the embryo to risk of injury or death.

Significantly, President Bush calls our nation to vigorously move forward with medical research "while also maintaining the highest ethical standards and respecting human life and human dignity." President Bush continues with a profound call for protecting nascent human life from destructive research stating that "no life should be used as a mere means for achieving the medical benefit of another." He continues by stating that "human embryos and fetuses, as living members of the human species, are not raw materials to be exploited or commodities to be bought and sold."

President Bush has focused on the heart of the matter - embryos are human beings. Basic embryology makes it clear that from fertilization a new human being exists as a composite unity with his or her own internal principle directed toward continuing organismic development and growth towards adulthood. From the moment the human zygote is formed a new human being exists, separate from his/her father or mother. Thus, he/she is a bearer of human rights.

Each of us has as our origin that small cluster of cells we call an embryo. Each human being has immeasurable value and intrinsic dignity which outweighs any utilitarian consideration. Providing public funding to support research on cells obtained through the destruction of human beings, especially at their most vulnerable stages, is an affront to the dignity of all persons. Thank you, President Bush, for in protecting the most vulnerable among us the dignity of every person is enhanced.