NYS Bishops Statement on Human Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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NYS Bishops Statement on Human Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

June 24, 2005

Dear People of God,

Ours is a world in which, for several hundred years, we have all benefited from the extraordinary achievements of scientific research, technological skill and human creative genius. Yet neither in the past nor today have men and women ever been free to disregard the questions of the meaning of human life and the defense and protection of human dignity that are the foundation of all human rights and the basis of civil society. The past has taught with too many examples that human ingenuity can be used for destructive purposes if not harnessed to a proper vision of the human person in accordance with natural law, aided by the insights of religious faith.

In the present day, these dangers are again emerging in the scientific experimentation involving cloning and embryonic stem cell research. There are several bills now pending before our state legislature in Albany that are humanly and ethically unacceptable to any person who values human life. These bills would authorize and finance the creation and subsequent destruction of human embryos through cloning and embryo experimentation.

While most of the scientific community shares the public’s moral revulsion and rejection of human cloning, the term “therapeutic cloning” is now being used to make some cloning appear acceptable, even desirable, because it implies that some cloning might help cure disease or open up new advances to help those who are suffering. Whether one calls it cloning or “somatic cell nuclear transfer,” whether it is done for “therapeutic” or “reproductive” reasons, the cloning of human beings is morally unacceptable by reason of natural law. Moreover, the destruction of human embryos– whether they are manufactured by cloning or in vitro fertilization techniques – is ethically unacceptable and we remain unalterably opposed to any legislation that promotes such destruction.

The campaign for embryonic stem cell research is a campaign that overlooks the fact that embryos are human and therefore, destroying embryos to harvest stem cells is destroying human life.

This position echoes that of Pope Benedict XVI, the bishops of the United States and the dictates of our Catholic tradition of moral reasoning. We also join with the General Assembly of the United Nations which, earlier this year, called on governments to prohibit all forms of human cloning because they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of hum