Scientists announced this week that they have successfully produced embryonic stem cells by transferring the DNA of human skin cells into unfertilized human eggs to produce embryos, a technique the Church considers to be an abuse of human life.
CNA/EWTN News is reporting that the latest research, published in the May issue of Cell, used cells derived from women who were “financially compensated for the time, effort, discomfort and inconvenience associated with the donation process.”
This process requires hormone treatments to induce ovulation and can cause a potentially life-threatening condition known as severe hyperstimulation syndrome which causes fluid buildup around the heart and lungs and in the abdomen, and a drop in blood fluid content. More moderate forms of the condition can result in nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and fluid build up.
Scientists say the aim of the research is to produce stem cells for therapies that are genetically identical to those of the patient and thus avoid the long-standing problem of rejection which is associated with embryonic stem cell therapies.
The same kind of cloning has been done in mice and monkeys, but this is the first time human embryos have been grown past an eight-cell stage from cloned cells. More than 120 embryos – both male and female – were created and allowed to grow for seven days before being destroyed in the research, which resulted in the creation of six embryonic stem cell lines.
“The news that researchers have developed a technique for human cloning is deeply troubling on many levels,” said Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who heads the USCCB’s pro-life activities committee.
“Creating new human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them is an abuse denounced even by many who do not share the Catholic Church’s convictions on human life.”
He expressed concern for the risks posed to women who “put their health and fertility at risk” to produce the eggs which were used to accomplish the goal of producing genetically matched stem cells, something that is “already being addressed by scientific advances that do not pose these grave moral wrongs.”
Cardinal O’Malley also said that these techniques could be “taken up by those who want to produce cloned children as ‘copies’ of other people.”
Cardinal O’Malley concluded his statement by saying that “whether used for one purpose or the other, human cloning treats human beings as products, manufactured to order to suit other people’s wishes. It is inconsistent with our moral responsibility to treat each member of the human family as a unique gift of God, as a person with his or her own inherent dignity.”
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