The Beginning of Life
The scientific community was abuzz in May with the news that scientists in Oregon had produced a line of embryonic stem cells derived from cloned human embryos. Human cloning or somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) has been deemed immoral by the Catholic Church for several reasons. Cardinal Sean O'Malley, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, summed up the dilemma:
"The news...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 (ovarian hyper stimulation to procure the necessary eggs) 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."
The website, stemcellresearch.org, offers a wealth of information on stem cell research, detailing the numerous treatments and cures that are possible with adult stem cells. The John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa focuses only on adult stem cell research and education. The St. Louis Cord Blood Bank at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center collects and distributes cord blood for research and treatment of multiple diseases. Ethical and effective treatments of medical conditions and diseases with adult stem cells are not a fantasy – they are a reality.
The End of Life
The slippery slope is alive and well. Vermont passed legislation in May to became the fourth state to enact a law allowing physician assisted suicide and the first state to accomplish this with a vote of the legislature. Oregon and Washington have similar laws that were passed by a ballot initiative. Montana allows physician assisted suicide due to a court ruling. Bishop Salvatore Matano, bishop of the state wide diocese of Vermont, stated, "It is a tragic moment...Vermont is now identified as one of the few Death States, where it is legal for life to be terminated both at its beginning and end stages." Cardinal O'Malley added:
"The new Vermont law goes beyond that in place in Oregon and allows the state in the coming years to drop even the so-called 'safeguards' against abuse."
In 2011, the USCCB issued a statement on assisted suicide, "To Live Each Day with Dignity." The full text, as well as information on the Church's advocacy on end-of-life issues is available online.
Printed in the July 2013 ProLife Profile