Religious Groups Speak Out on Bills to Increase Stem Cell Research
WASHINGTON (RNS) Religious leaders are giving mixed reviews of the Tuesday (May 24) passage of two stem cell research bills in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Catholics praised the passage of a bill to increase research on stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood. They see it as an alternative to a more controversial bill, which President Bush has promised to veto, that would increase research on embryonic stem cells, which Catholics see as human life.
“The good news is that the House of Representatives voted nearly unanimously to encourage the broader use of cord blood stem cells in research and treatment, an ethical and exceptionally promising field,” said Richard M. Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The bill to promote killing of human embryos for their stem cells will not become law.”
Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson condemned that bill. “Unfortunately many members of both parties do not appreciate the grave moral issues that are at stake,” said Anderson, speaking for the Roman Catholic organization of 1.7 million members.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America saw the legislation in a different light. The nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization does not give an embryo outside the womb the full status of personhood and credited both bills as efforts to save human life and ease pain.
“By narrowly tailoring those cells upon which such research may be conducted, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act serves to value and venerate the sanctity of life and our responsibilities to our fellow man and woman,” the Union said in a statement.