Friday, February 23, 2007

Archbishop Hanus on embryonic stem cell research

On Ash Wednesday, February 21, Dubuque Archbishop Jerome Hanus spoke out against the proposed bill to repeal Iowa's ban on human cloning (veiled as a bill regarding embryonic stem cell research). Iowa House Republican leader Christopher Rants published the Archbishop's statement on his website ( ). Unfortunately, the House passed the proposed bill 52-46 on Thursday. Governor Chet Culver has promised to sign the bill into law. Another victory for the culture of death.

[note: do not consider this a personal endorsement of any party, although, I feel it necessary to point out that it would seem that the Democrats have failed the people of Iowa more on this particular issue--in particular, Govenors Tom Vilsack (a Catholic) and Chet Culver (who excitedly agreed that he would sign the bill).]

Archbishop Jerome Hanus' statement:

I am Archbishop Jerome Hanus of Dubuque, IA. I speak in name of the Iowa Catholic Conference.

Catholics support most forms of stem cell research.

The Catholic Church supports most forms of stem cell research. Research using adult stem cells, cells from umbilical cord blood, the placenta, or from amniotic fluid is ethically acceptable. All the successful treatments that have been developed by scientists up to this point come from this kind of stem cell research.

Just last year, Pope Benedict XVI affirmed, “Somatic stem-cell research also deserves approval and encouragement when it felicitously combines scientific knowledge, the most advanced technology in the biological field and ethics that postulate respect for the human being at every state of his or her existence” (16 September 2006).

Scientists have kept a record of the medical treatments which have been developed from research using adult stem cells.

Listen to the list. Successful therapies have been developed for 26 forms of cancer; 14 forms of auto-immune diseases; 2 forms of cardio vascular disease; ocular disease; immunodeficiencies; neural degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s; spinal cord injuries; sickle cell and other anemias; metabolic disorders; liver and bladder diseases. More than 70 effective therapies have been developed as a result of adult stem cell research. How many therapies or treatments have developed from embryonic stem cell research? None. Not a single helpful therapy has been developed from embryonic stem cell research.

Why should Iowa tax money be used to support unpromising research? Why should Iowa tax money be used to support research which many Iowan citizens find ethically unacceptable?

The basis for the Catholic position is the Golden Rule. “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” In the medical science field, this rule has been articulated by the basic principle of the Hippocratic Oath: “As to diseases, make a habit of two things-to help or at least do no harm” --The Epidemics

Medical ethicists and philosophers have developed sound principles. Many of these principles are enshrined in the laws of our country and our State. These laws prohibit unethical experimentation on humans. Legislators are passing laws to protect animals and to protect the environment. There is a federal law which makes it a crime to damage the embryo of a bald eagle.

Human subjects should not be subjected to unethical experimentation. This is an important moral principle. Exceptions to it are regulated carefully by important statues. Human subjects may not be experimented on unless they give their consent.

Consent may be given for experimentation on human subjects who cannot give consent themselves, if the experimentation has some promise of good for those subjects themselves.

This proposed legislation would make it legal to experiment on human subjects without proper consent being given. This legislation would permit damage and death to be done to living human beings.

Catholic social philosophy has as one of its primary principles the insistence on respect and recognition of the human dignity of every human being, no matter what the age or the condition of that human being.
Just because this living human organism was created by the nucleus of a somatic cell, and not by a sperm, does not prove that this is not human. The sheep, Dollie, was created by a similarly process, by a somatic cell nuclear transfer. Even without a sperm, Dollie became a sheep, a real sheep. The embryo formed by a human egg and a human somatic cell nucleus is a human embryo.

James Shipley is a stem cell scientist from MIT. He has written (Boston Globe June 12, 2006):
“As living human beings, human embryos, no matter how they are created, are protected [according to regulations that institution review boards are charged with enforcing] from research that threatens their life and well-being.”

Most scientests affirm there is no credible scientific debate about the fact that these are human embryos. There is no credible scientific debate!

Therefore, this particular bill, HF 287, is objectionable for the following reasons:

It uses public money to support medical and scientific experimentation which may find to be unethical.

It produces embryos which science recognizes as both human and living.

It requires that these human living being be destroyed.

This experimentation does not help these living human beings.

This kind of experimentation holds little promise of developing therapies which will cure or treat any diseases.

Iowa tax dollars would be put to better use if they were directed to more promising research.

Most Rev. Jerome Hanus, O.S.B.
Archbishop of Dubuque


The DesMoines Register article, in particular, is illuminating. Think where we might be in 5 or 10 years. Human cloning for the purposes of not just research, but also to produce designer babies, etc. We have already descended down the slippery slope... soon our society might resemble the world of bizarro sci-fi novels. How sad.

DesMoines Register:

Radio Iowa

Richard Doerflinger, National Review:

The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics (for news on legislation regarding embryonic stem cell research in the U.S. and around the world):

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