EU Leaders, Catholic Church Decry Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 16, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

EU Leaders, Catholic Church Decry Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 16, 2006

Strasbourg, France ( — The Catholic Church and bishops in the European Union are upset by a Thursday vote in the EU parliament to spend tax funds on embryonic stem cell research. They said opposing the research and its destruction of human life is not just a Catholic position.

“Research instrumentalizing human life and using it as a raw material” is “not just a Catholic position,” said Msgr. Noel Treanor of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).

Treanor said embryonic stem cell research raises “fundamental anthropological and ethical problems” that cause many to have problems with it.

“Human dignity does not depend — and must not be made dependent — on decisions of other human beings. Every human life begins at conception and needs particular protection if it is created outside the woman’s body,” Msgr. Treanor said.

On Thursday, the EU parliament voted 284 to 249 with 32 abstentions in favor of new guidelines for funding scientific research that places more emphasis on funding embryonic stem cells than in the last budget.

A small amount of money in the last budget went towards embryonic stem cells while the bulk of it funded adult stem cell research. COMECE said the emphasis on adult stem cells should have continued.

Meanwhile, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano decried the vote. It said the EU parliament made "a fundamental error," using a "tragically utilitarian" approach.

"The European Union, created on a continent that had seen the inhuman excesses of 20th-century ideologies, should understand the perils of the ideas behind stem-cell research," L’Osservatore wrote.

Instead, the EU rejected "not only the religious convictions of the majority of the population, but also the inviolable rights of the person."

The EU has no policy on how it provides grants to scientists but a committee decides the research grants the science budget will fund on a case by case basis.

The guidelines from the last budget gave preferential treatment to adult stem cell research but still funded embryonic stem cell studies as long as they were not conducted in nations with bans on such funding. Under the last budget, eight embryonic stem cell research and over 100 adult stem cell research projects received financial support.

The overall budget spends $64.3 billion on various scientific projects and programs as well as health-related issues.