Sunday, April 26, 2009

Catholics Carry Battle Against Embryonic Stem Cell Research to States

Polls tell us that a majority of catholics support embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) because it holds the promise of treating - even curing - a number of serious diseases such as parkinson's, juvenile diabetes and spinal cord injuries. But churches are based on obedience not democracy so despite the majority view, the church continues to engage in politics to block embryonic stem cell research. After President Obama's recent order restoring support for ESCR at the national level the religious right has now shifted the battle to the states. According to an April 26th article in the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader the church has promised to defeat any attempt in the legislature to lift South Dakota's ESCR ban.

"It's a very important issue that strikes very close to who we are as human beings, how we live our lives and how we treat others," said Travis Benson, co-director of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls' Respect Life office.

The church supports adult stem cell research, Benson said, but opposes embryonic stem cell research. Harvesting stem cells from an embryo kills the embryo "which is a human being in the very earliest stages of life," he said.

Supporters of such research say that it can lead to life-saving cures, but Benson says "you should never do evil, even if you can accomplish good with it."

Mr. Benson has a strangely twisted notion of good and evil. According to his definition people suffering from progressive, degenerative diseases should spend the remainder of their lives in painful, humiliating dependency - a burden on their families and their community - because of his church's insistence that fertilized embryos - most of which will die naturally are equal or superior to born human beings. In fact, most embryonic stem cell research uses unwanted excess embryos created artificially in fertility clinics and usually dumped in a landfill if they are no longer required

If Mr Benson and his church honestly believed embryos were persons, they would have them baptized named and, of course, given last rites and burials in consecrated landfills. For the church, embryos are instruments for political organization.

In this case the church doesn't respect life. Their object is political and concern for life is only a slogan developed by their PR people. I suspect that when catholic legislators are tempted to support lifting South Dakota's ban on Embryonic Stem Cell Research in the next legislative session, they will be threatened with exclusion from the sacraments. But at least they will be in company with a majority of catholics who practice birth control and support ESCR because they know that on these issues as on others the church has confused good and evil to achieve its political objectives

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