WASHINGTON (May 28, 1999) -- The recommendations of a new report on embryonic stem cell research is based on analysis which is "gravely deficient," according to a strongly worded letter from the Chairman of the Bishops Committee for Pro-Life Activities.
A draft report of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission released earlier this week calls for Congress to end a four-year ban on federal funding for destructive embryonic research.
"Sadly, the Commission's analysis is gravely deficient," said Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore in a May 27 letter to Members of Congress. "It makes three important concessions regarding destructive embryo research, then draws exactly the wrong conclusion from them."
The Commission conceded that federal funding for embryonic stem cell research will implicate all taxpayers in destroying human life. They also recognized that millions of Americans see the human embryo as a human being with a right to life. And finally, the Commission acknowledged that research with no moral problems should be given preference.
Cardinal Keeler said the Commission based its flawed recommendation to provide federal funding for embryo research on a "chilling analogy."
"Just as government now refuses to fund most abortions, but will fund those deemed 'necessary' to save the life of the mother, so government may kill human embryos when 'necessary' for research that may save the lives of others," Cardinal Keeler said.
Resorting to such an argument, he said, points out how radical the proposal really is.
In urging Congress to take action, Cardinal Keeler said the Commission was correct to point out the Clinton Administration's efforts to evade current federal law prohibiting funding for destructive embryo research without congressional authorization, efforts he called "hypocritical and morally incoherent."
"Congress should demand that the Administration cease its efforts to evade the law," he said.
NOTE: The full text of Cardinal Keeler's letter is attached. It is also available on the World Wide Web at: www.nccbuscc.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/keeler.htm