Bishops and Babies
Thursday, June 26, 2008

Catholics believe that bishops are the direct descendants (in a spiritual sense) of the Apostles. They are ordained by God, and are the shepherds of His flock on earth (John 21:15-17). Catholics believe that just as a city on hill cannot be hid (Matt 5:14), Christ's Church is also not hidden, but rather it is a visible institution. That's one reason bishop's official statements are important to Catholics.

Okay, now that the mini theological lesson is out of the way...

The Bishops issued a statement on embryonic stem cell research. All emphasis is mine.
Because life is our first and most basic gift from an infinitely loving God, it deserves our utmost respect and protection. Direct attacks on innocent human life are always gravely wrong.
Yet some researchers, ethicists, and policy makers claim that we may directly kill innocent embryonic human beings as if they were mere objects of research—and even that we should make taxpayers complicit in such killing through use of public funds.
Some "Christian" abortion proponents hold a belief (based on an erroneous interpretation of Scripture) that a baby isn't a person until they have taken a breath. The bishops address the intrinsic humanity of each baby, no matter what developmental level they are at.

...some claim that the embryo in his or her first week of development is too small,
immature, or undeveloped to be considered a “human life.” Yet the human embryo, from conception onward, is as much a living member of the human species as any of us. As a matter of biological fact, this new living organism has the full complement of human genes and is actively expressing those genes to live and develop in a way that is unique to human beings, setting the essential foundation for further development.
A person's a person, no matter how small:
As believers who recognize each human life as the gift of an infinitely loving God, we insist that every human being, however small or seemingly insignificant, matters to God—hence everyone, no matter how weak or small, is of concern to us.

Well, what about frozen embryos? Aren't they just going to be thrown away, right?
Finally, some claim that scientists who kill embryos for their stem cells are not actually depriving anyone of life, because they are using “spare” or unwanted embryos who will die anyway. This argument is simply invalid. Ultimately each of us will die, but that gives no one a right to kill us.
Likewise, the fact that an embryonic human being is at risk of being abandoned by his or her parents gives no individual or government a right to directly kill that human being first.

Notice the statement that parents who leave their babies in a frozen never-land are abandoning their babies. But God remembers them, and so should we.

Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Isaiah 49:15

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matt. 25:40

We should not compound the tragedy of these babies' abandonment by killing them, whether they are merely "disposed of" or whether they have their innermost parts harvested by scientists.

The paragraph on human cloning bears reprinting, in entirety. Emphasis is mine.
Human cloning is intrinsically evil because it reduces human procreation to a mere manufacturing process, producing new human beings in the laboratory to predetermined specifications as though they were commodities. It shows disrespect for human life in the very act of generating it.

This is especially clear when human embryos are produced by cloning for research purposes, because new human lives are generated solely in order to be destroyed. Such cloning for research will also inevitably facilitate attempts to produce live-born cloned children, posing a new challenge to each and every child’s right to be respected as a unique individual with his or her own future.

Some policy makers offer to prevent this result by mandating that all embryos produced by cloning be destroyed at a certain point, so they cannot survive to birth. These proposals wrongly approve human cloning, while compounding the evil further by insisting that the innocent human victim of cloning must die.
But should we just abandon stem cell therapy, leaving millions to suffer and die from diseases we might be able to cure or prevent in the future? No, there's no need for that.
Nature in fact provides ample resources for pursuing medical progress without raising these grave moral concerns. Stem cells from adult tissues and umbilical cord blood... are now in widespread use to treat many kinds of cancer and other illnesses, and in clinical trials they have already benefited patients suffering from heart disease, corneal damage, sickle-cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, and many other devastating conditions.1

Researchers have even developed new non-destructive methods for producing cells with the properties of embryonic stem cells—for example, by “reprogramming” adult cells. There is no moral objection to research and therapy of this kind, when it involves no harm to human beings at any stage of development and is conducted with appropriate informed consent.

Here's an analogy. Say you need a heart transplant. It turns out I'm a match. Can you kill me, to harvest my heart so you may live? Of course not. What if you are a respected cancer doctor, or inspiring artist, or inventor creating products to enhance millions of lives, and I'm a high school dropout living on welfare? Can you kill me? I might be your only chance for a transplant, and I have something you need to be cured. Is your life inherently worth more than mine?

It is the same with embryos. We can't kill them and harvest their body parts in the name of research.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 6/26/2008 07:02:00 AM | Permalink | |