Here’s a quick roundup of embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR) related news:
- In St. Louis, Archbishop Raymond Burke has made a strong public stand against ESCR and a Missouri ballot initiative that would allow so-called “therapeutic” cloning, i.e. creating clones as long as the scientists promise to kill them and use them for research. Proponents of such cloning are under the mistaken impression that our opposition is to clones being born, whereas our opposition is based on a respect for the sanctity of human life and the sanctity of the marital act. Burke said the referendum supporters are using “a tremendous amount of misinformation and disinformation” to promote their cause. ESCR is definitely one of those issues in which a lot of the rhetoric thrown around in the media is deceptive and misleading unless you do your own research.
- Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, who’s already unofficially running for the Republican nomination for president in 2008, has “reiterated his opposition to a type of stem-cell research yesterday, saying laboratories that create embryos for study take science too far.” What he opposes is ESCR based on embryonic unborn children conceived in laboratories and then killed for their cells.
“I believe it crosses a very bright moral line to take sperm and egg in the laboratory and start creating human life,” said Romney, who is considering a 2008 presidential run. “It is Orwellian in its scope in that in laboratories you can have trays of new embryos being created.
That sounds very good and right in line with Catholic belief, until you realize that Romney has no problems with using unborn children “left over” from fertility treatments: “Romney backs the use of stem cells taken from fertility clinic embryos, but not cloned embryos.” So it crosses a moral line to create human life in the laboratory, but it doesn’t cross a moral line to kill that new human life. His position is morally incomprehensible.
Meanwhile, Romney’s lame-duck administration has formulated new regulations for ESCR based on a law passed by the Legislature legalizing it, but some researchers, champing at the bit to start dismantling embryos, are saying that they actually undermine the law.
In particular, the organizations objected to language in the regulations that they said expanded a prohibition explicitly stated in the law—on creating fertilized embryos for the sole intent of “donating” the embryo for research—to the creation of a fertilized embryo for the sole intent of “using” it for research. That wording, the opponents say, applies the prohibition to the scientists, which they say the Legislature did not intend.
The regulators said, according to the story, the law “implicitly bans the creation of fertilized embryos solely for use in research,” and that the law gives them broad authority to write the regulations.
Of course, this means nothing. No prosecutor in this state would bring charges against an ESCR scientist and the Legislature will eventually amend the law to counter the regulations anyway. It’s all political theatre.