Knights of Columbus Bishop Busch Council 4863


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Igor! I Need More Bodies!

"Stem cell research" is in the news again. To hear some people talk, it's the answer to curing every affliction known: if only short-sighted, unfeeling fools don't interfere.

There's even a sentimental commercial where a football star talks about his sick little boy. Apparently, the boy will die unless researchers are allowed to get all the stem cells they want, from any source they want.

Some stem cell research makes use of a ‘resource. that would otherwise go to waste: left-over embryos at fertility clinics and other health care facilities. These are usually thrown away.

Who could possibly object to using these?

For starters, the Bush administration. They stopped funding to stem cell research that used extra embryos. President Bush said that he'd veto a bill that gave tax money to people who kill babies to get at their cells. One bill that would do this is H.R. 810.

Another voice against using stem cells from throw-away embryos is the Catholic Church. The Church sees people of any age as human beings. Even embryos. The Catechism says that "human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life." (2270)

The Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Keeler, sent a letter to the House of Representatives on May 17. He wrote, "Government has no business forcing taxpayers to become complicit in the direct destruction of human life at any stage"

Cardinal Keeler gave at two reasons for not using tax money for embryonic stem cell (ESC) research.

First, using adult and umbilical stem cells poses no moral problem. There are already ways to treat corneal damage, Parkinson's disease, juvenile diabetes, spinal cord injury, cardiac damage, sickle-cell anemia, and many more conditions, with adult and umbilical stem cells. These methods are already at the point where they're ready for human tests.

Second, even researchers say that the ‘promise. of ESCs was exaggerated. Those embryonic cells are genetically unstable and tend to form deadly tumors when they're put in someone else's body.

The Knights of Columbus. Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, called Bush's promised veto "a principled stand in defense of human life." "This is not a partisan issue," Anderson said. "The bill is sponsored by a member of the president's own party, and unfortunately many members of both parties do not appreciate the grave moral issues that are at stake."

Another bill, H.R. 2520, supports research using umbilical stem cells from and would establish a nationwide public bank for those cells. Happily, although both H.R. 2520 and 810 passed the House, the deadly 810 bill doesn't have a veto-proof margin.

Members of Congress probably shouldn't be blamed for trying to spend our money to kill babies. They're not so much evil, as clueless. Debate in Congress "showed an appalling degree of ignorance and confusion on the issue," as an official of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (UCCB), Richard Doerflinger, put it. Some congresspersons said that "embryonic stem cells have a proven ability to cure patients and that adult stem cells do not, whereas exactly the opposite is true," Doerflinger pointed out.

The kind of sophistication and conscience shown by our leaders sometimes reminds me of those old black-and-white horror movies. Imagine a laboratory (pronounce it "la-boh-ratory) in a dank castle. The Mad Genius (Dr. Master) is frustrated.

"Igor! I need more bodies!"

"I'm sorry, Master, the graveyard is, heh-heh, empty. Oh, wait! I have an idea!" With that, Igor lurches out the door.

Time passes. Then Master comes back to the laboratory. "Igor! What are all these children doing here?!!"

"Oh, Master, the orphanage had some extras. Is Master pleased?"

"Hmm. A little small, but at least they're fresh. I'll start with the blond one."

On second thought, those ‘Bride of Frankenstein's Second Cousin. movies were more realistic.

For most of the folks receiving this bulletin, our Representative in the House is Collin Peterson, (202) 225-2165. Our Senators are Norm Coleman, (202) 224-5641, and Mark Dayton, Mark, (202) 224-3244.

Find your US Representative: House of Representatives.
Find your US Senator: Senate.

(Facts from Catechism of the Catholic Church, Catholic News Agency, Catholic World News, EWTN, Knights of Columbus, USCCB, and Zenit.)

Brian H. Gill, Editor, Sauk Centre K of C Bulletin

June 2005

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This page last updated December 19, 2010