Catholic Bishops Condemn Obama Admin’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Rules

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 21, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishops Condemn Obama Admin’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Rules

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 21
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Cardinal Justin Rigali, the chairman of the pro-life outreach for the nation’s Catholic bishops is condemning the new rules the Obama administration put in place allowing taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.

The NIH guidelines come after President Barack Obama issued his executive order overturning the protections President Bush put in place.

The National Institutes of Health provided the guidelines for scientists using federal funds to obtain human embryos supposedly left over form fertility clinics and destroy them for scientific research.

Cardinal Rigali says the NIH guidelines "mark a new chapter in divorcing biomedical research from its necessary ethical foundation."

"Without unconditional respect for the life of each and every member of the human race, research involving human subjects does not represent true progress. It becomes another way for some human beings to use and mistreat others for their own goals," he told in a statement. "Suffering patients and their families deserve better, through increased support for promising and ethically sound stem cell research and treatments that harm no one."

Looking to practical concerns, Rigali is worried that the new guidelines are too broad in that they allow destruction of newly created embryos who were never frozen, thus increasing the prospects for a rushed and biased consent process.

Also, despite the claims of backers of the Obama decision that it would only involve human embryos who would otherwise be destroyed, Rigali says 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."

Rigali joins the National Right to Life in its concerns that the new NIH guidelines represent a first step in a strategy to overturn an important bioethics law.

The pro-life group contends members of Congress, claiming they are only implementing the new guidelines into federal law, will overturn the Dickey-Wicker amendment that prohibits the federal funding of the purposeful creation and destruction of human embryos for scientific research.

"We can hope that the NIH and Congress will continue to respect this ethical norm, and will realize that the alleged ‘need’ for violating it is more implausible than ever due to advances in reprogramming adult cells to act like embryonic stem cells," the Catholic leader told

"However, congressional supporters of destructive human embryo research have already said they will pursue a more extreme policy," he added.

Cardinal Rigali promised that the Catholic bishops "will be writing to Congress and the Administration about the need to restore and maintain barriers against the mistreatment of human life in the name of science, and we urge other concerned citizens to do the same."

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