At the Symposium on Human Dignity and Reproductive Technology at the University of Illinois at Chicago Monday, Cardinal Francis George said it is up to the church to safeguard "human dignity so that human beings are not reduced to being objects of scientific experiment."
President Bush has tried to put the brakes on stem cell research, opposing government financing of research on new stem cell lines. Last August, he said research on existing lines could continue, despite opposition from those who fear it could lead to human cloning. Scientists complained about the Bush decision, saying some of the existing five dozen lines were unfit for human research because they had been mingled with non-human cells.
In Britain last week, a parliamentary panel backed regulations legalizing cloning to create human embryos for research. Research is to be limited to embryos less than 2 weeks old.
|A 33-year-old woman had embryos screened for early onset Alzheimer's disease and implanted only embryos that were free of the defective gene.|
"Babies are not meant to be made but to be begotten in an act of love," said William May of the John Paul Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in declaring in vitro fertilization wrong. He also declared screening embryos for disease wrong and said embryos with defective genes should not be destroyed.
"It is not a potential person. It is a person with potential, an identifiable member of the human species," May said.
The issue was highlighted last week following a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association a 33-year-old woman had embryos screened for early onset Alzheimer's disease and implanted only embryos that were free of the defective gene that brings on the condition. The screening was conducted at Reproductive Genetics Institute in Chicago and the woman now is pregnant with her second child.
Last year, the clinic helped in the birth of Adam Nash, who was genetically selected so he could give cells from his umbilical cord to his ailing sister, Molly, who has a condition that can lead to leukemia.
May also declared therapeutic cloning of one's own cells wrong because in extracting stem cells to treat such diseases as diabetes and Parkinson's, the embryo would be destroyed.
University of Chicago ethicist Jean Bethke Elshtain said there is a danger we are "narrowing our definition of humanity." Elshtain objects to prenatal testing that allows expectant mothers to abort fetuses that show signs of abnormalities. Elshtain said that leads to the belief those suffering from disabilities should never be born.