News Release: Michigan Catholic Conference Urging Congressional Delegation to Vote “NO’ on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill

H.R. 810 Represents Bad Public Policy for Michigan Taxpayers

May 23, 2005

(LANSING)—Congress appears likely to soon vote on a measure that would allow for expanded federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, and the Michigan Catholic Conference is urging Michigan’s congressional delegation to vote “no” on any legislation that would appropriate public tax dollars for the purpose of destructive human embryonic research. The Conference is also encouraging Congress to support ethical adult stem cell research, a method that does not involve killing embryos and is currently treating some 58 debilitating conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, brain cancer and juvenile diabetes.

In a letter sent to all 15 members of the Michigan congressional delegation, Michigan Catholic Conference president and chief executive officer Sister Monica Kostielney, R.S.M., said: “It is the belief of millions of Americans and this organization that in no way, shape or form should state or federal government allocate public tax dollars for the purpose of destructive human research. To that end, government has no right, whether through constitutional or natural law, to enact public policy measures for the purpose of creating or terminating human life.”

A press conference recently conducted in Washington D.C. revealed “Republican moderate” support in 13 congressional districts for a measure that would allow researchers, under the supervision of the National Institutes of Health, to access fertilized eggs from fertility clinics for the purpose of embryonic stem cell research. Corresponding legislation, H.R. 810, enacts such a policy and includes as co-sponsors Congressmen Joe Schwarz (R-Battle Creek), John Conyers (D-Detroit), Sander Levin (D-Royal Oak) and Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick (D-Detroit).

Contradicting that support is a national survey conducted by International Communications Research May 6-11 that showed 52 percent of Americans oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research while just 36 percent support the measure. When respondents were told that scientists disagree on whether embryonic stem cells or adult stem cells may end up being most successful in treating diseases, 60 percent favored funding only the ethical adult stem cell research, while 22 percent favored funding all stem cell research.

“Freedom to kill is not a true freedom, but rather a tyranny that reduces man to slavery,” Sr. Monica stated in the letter. “It is important that we understand the whole story behind stem-cell research, and as a result understand that to support adult stem cell research while opposing embryonic stem cell research is not ideological but ethically principled and fully consistent with the goals of science.”

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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