WASHINGTON (July 29, 2005)—Cardinal William H. Keeler, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Pro-life Activities, criticized Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's announcement today that he will support federally funded stem cell research that requires destroying human embryos.
Cardinal Keeler's statement follows.
"Today Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced he will support using federal funds to encourage the destruction of living human embryos for their stem cells. Despite the Senator's disclaimers to the contrary, this position is not 'pro-life.'
"Especially disturbing is the Senator's insistence that human embryos unwanted by their own parents are owed 'the same dignity and respect' as children and adults, but may nevertheless be killed for research material. Such destruction of innocent human life, even out of a desire to help others, rests on a utilitarian view that undermines human dignity and human respect, as Senator Sam Brownback ably pointed out today in his response. Senator Frist's effort to make an analogy with organ transplants also fails, because it would be gravely immoral as well as illegal to harvest any patient's vital organs when he or she is still alive.
"Despite his warning against offering 'false hope' to patients, Senator Frist also repeated claims that are untrue or misleading about the unique 'promise' of embryonic stem cells. No one has identified any disease that can be treated only with these cells; no one even knows whether they will ever provide a safe and reliable treatment for the conditions already being successfully treated using adult stem cells. These factual issues will no doubt be explored by others. My own central concern is that neither sound ethics nor good government can rest on the principle that 'the end justifies the means.' I commend President Bush for his laudable pledge to veto such legislation."