The Bishops have issued a strong statement condemning government scientists' recommendations yesterday approving the use of human embryos for scientific research. A final decision on the issue will be left to a free vote of MPs, but ministers have endorsed the recommendations of Professor Liam Donaldson and his advisory group. Researchers believe they can revolutionise medicine if they are allowed to apply to humans some of the technology pioneered in Dolly the sheep. Cardinal Thomas Winning, Archbishop of Glasgow and Chairman of the Bioethics Committee of the Catholic Bishops of Great Britain and Ireland, said: "This morning's recommendation from the government's chief medical officer that human embryos should be used in stem cell research will shock and disappoint many. "Human stem cell research is a scientific field that may offer promising new developments in health care. But science cannot operate in a moral vacuum. Obtaining stem cells from a human embryo is morally wrong, because it involves the destruction of a human life. Human life is inviolably sacred, both before and after any arbitrary 14-day deadline. "Furthermore, cloning embryos to obtain an endless supply of stem cells is to adopt the production line approach to human lives. "Using adult stem cells in this research does not give rise to the same ethical problems. This is an area of research that is being dismissed too quickly, in favour of a process which very many people - not just Catholics - would find morally repugnant. "We would favour a ban on all research that results in the destruction of human embryos, that is, human life." With embryo stem cell research, experimental procedures involve the removal of cells from the human embryo at an early stage of development followed by the destruction or killing of the embryo. In adult stem cell research, experimental procedures involve the removal of cells from an adult with the intention of using these cells for positive medical purposes. This technique does not involve any killing and is not considered morally wrong.
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