4/08/2011

Ethical Reflections on Embryonic Stem Cell Research by Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington

In recent years, much has been written about embryonic stem cell research.I recently found very good article by Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington on this bioethical issue, which I want to highly recommend for any bioethicists or general public who want to know more about embryonic stem cell research. Archbishop's letter has been published in the Catholic Standard and entitled as "Ethical Reflections on Embryonic Stem Cell Research".

"Embryos are not the only source of stem cells and arguably not the best source. A number of alternative sources of stem cells offer more realistic hope for cures and treatments of diseases and illnesses. Stem cells from adult tissues have the potential to yield specialized cell types of the tissue from which it originated such as liver (hepatic), brain (neural), or blood (haematopoietic). These are called adult stem cells and scientists today assert that not only are adult stem cells more readily available, they also are more effective."

"Stem cells derived from placental or umbilical cord blood have proven to be remarkably effective, similar to other adult stem cells. Originally it was theorized that stem cells from these various sources would be ineffective because they are limited in their ability to become various types of cells. However, these stem cells from alternative sources have been successfully differentiated into needed tissue and are already healing human illnesses. According to the most recent research, adult stem cells have begun to help patients with over 70 different diseases and injuries."

"Adult stem cell research holds out the promise of a large step forward in the healing process. This research has been described as the most promising advance in medical science in the last decades. The Catholic Church is not opposed to the development of these therapies and remedies for a host of ailments and deficiencies that afflict the body. Stem cell research using stem cells from ethical sources is a continuation of the work that has been done for millennia by physicians and researchers seeking cures for illness and healing for the sick.

What the Church, as the conscience of society, calls for is moral and ethical reflection on the use of human embryos for stem cell research. No scientific, technological, or medical advances should take place divorced from moral and ethical consideration."

"Technology can be a blessing yet, like all science, it requires ethical reflection on its use if it is to be truly at the service of all of us who struggle in the human condition. We all so much long for the cures and therapies that can overcome the physical afflictions of life. At the same time, we need as well to pray for guidance that what we do is what we ought to do. What raises our technological expertise to a truly human level is our capacity to reflect on the ethical and moral dimensions of what we do."

Source: http://www.adw.org/service/stemcells.asp (reposted with permission)
See also: http://www.lifetopics.org/articles.php?subId=26; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrApDP0RD1M&feature=player_embedded

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