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Anglican Bishops support stem cell research

Posted on: March 20, 2002 3:45 PM
Related Categories: Australia

Anglican Bishops in New South Wales support stem cell research - but not at the cost of human life

The Most Reverend Dr Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney, is joined by other Anglican Bishops of NSW in supporting the Roman Catholic Bishops who have called for the Federal Government to support stem cell research which does not destroy human embryos.

The bishops of Bathurst, Grafton, Armidale, Newcastle and also the five Sydney regional Bishops and the assistant Bishop of Newcastle have agreed to the issuing of this statement with Archbishop Jensen.

"The Bible gives us a mandate to act as caretakers of creation," Archbishop Jensen said. "We should give every support and encouragement to medical research which seeks to find ways to reduce suffering in this world caused by the many debilitating illnesses in our society today."

However, the Archbishop says that in the case of embryonic stem cell research, the end does not justify the means.

"We are against the destruction of embryonic life in order to extract stem cells," Archbishop Jensen said. "Particularly when there are perfectly ethical means of extracting the necessary cells from umbilical cord blood in newborns, and from the brain and bone marrow in adults.

"The cost of human life in embryonic stem cell research can never be justified. There is no certainty that the sacrifice of embryos will lead to the cures for which we long, of diseases that debilitate the lives of many people. Scientists, in promoting their research, must be careful not to give exaggerated grounds for hope to those who are suffering. The method we use to achieve results needs to be considered as well as the final results themselves."

The Bishops support calls for uniform laws across all the States in order to provide accountability for researchers and also to protect the most vulnerable in society.

"The Bible says that people are formed by God in their mother's womb. This is why we deeply respect pregnant women and the children they carry. Protecting embryos, and even stem cells, simply reflects this deep respect."

"We want to see illnesses healed - but not in a society that allows people to consume others to heal themselves. Destroying embryonic life to heal ourselves builds such a society, where the vulnerable are commodities to be used up by the powerful.

"But when a mother and baby 'donate' spare stem cells from the umbilical cord, or adults donate their own cells, embryonic life is not destroyed, and we build a society where healing is founded on giving, and where each person is precious.

"Scientists might have to work harder for this result. But their great skill and intelligence should see them along the way. This path will guard their integrity. Scientists can help build a society based on giving to others, rather than upon consuming others."

"We are perturbed by recent news reports about companies planning to produce cloned human embryos for research. This amounts to the commodification of human life," the Bishops said.

The Bishops recognise that there are some sensitivities about the use of the umbilical cord for the Aboriginal community.

Archbishop Jensen is the Chairman of the Sydney Diocesan Social Issues Executive, which is currently conducting research into bioethical issues.

Article from: Anglican Media Sydney