US Catholic bishops, gathering today in Orlando, Florida for their two-day spring meeting, will vote on a proposed statement concerning embryonic stem cell research. If approved, this statement will be the first formal statement issued by the American bishops devoted exclusively to this issue. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been prominent in the national debate on stem cell research for many years. Conference officials have offered public statements, testimony and letters to Congress on the issue and many individual bishops and state conferences of bishops have spoken out, especially in the context of state legislation and ballot initiatives. The Catholic Church's moral position against destroying human embryos for research is also stated briefly in other documents by the full body of bishops (e.g., Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship in November 2007). The statement on embryonic stem cell research is devoted to the question whether researchers, with or without government funds, are ethically justified in destroying human embryos to obtain stem cells for research and possible future treatments. The bishops firmly answer this question in the negative, respond to several arguments used in the public debate to justify such destruction, and explain how an initial decision to destroy so-called "spare" embryos for this research leads to far broader ethical abuses, including new risks to women of child-bearing age. Approval of this statement requires support by two-thirds of the USCCB's members. Source: USCCB
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