Pope Benedict XVI
Sept. 18, 2006, in an address to an international congress sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life and the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations:
The destruction of human embryos to harvest stem cells is “not only devoid of the light of God but is also devoid of humanity” and “does not truly serve humanity.”
In this research package
Overview: Stem Cell Research at the Crossroads of Religion and Politics
Embryonic stem cell research, which uses cells found in three- to five-day-old human embryos to seek cures for a host of chronic diseases, has sparked a major debate in the United States.
The Science Behind Stem Cell Research
Stem cells, the “building blocks of nature,” can transform into any other type of cell in the body.
A March 2009 poll report from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds that opinions about stem cell research have been fairly stable in recent years.
Religious Groups’ Official Positions on Stem Cell Research
A breakdown of 17 major religious groups’ views on the issue.
Stem Cell Research Around the World
The U.S. is only one of many countries playing an important role in stem cell research.
Quotes on Stem Cell Research
Quotes on stem cell research from political, religious and other prominent figures.
President George W. Bush
Aug. 9, 2001, in an address to the nation on stem cell research:
“An ethicist … told me that [a] cluster of cells is the same way you and I, and all the rest of us, started our lives. One goes with a heavy heart if we use these [embryonic stem cells], he said, because we are dealing with the seeds of the next generation.”
Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries
July 22, 2006, in an op-ed, “The Veto: Should We Cross the Great Moral Divide?”
“The supporters of embryo-destructive research want to cross a great moral divide. They are seeking not only to destroy human life made in God’s image but also to manufacture life made in man’s image. Tragically, we are losing this fight, however, because too few people understand the issues.”
John Danforth, former U.S. senator and Episcopal priest
November 2005, in a TV ad sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, advocating a state ballot initiative to allow stem cell research in Missouri:
“My entire political career, I voted pro-life, and that is exactly why I favor the stem cell initiative. I believe in saving human life. I want cures to be found.”
Michael J. Fox, actor and activist
Oct. 27, 2006, in response to a question during an interview with journalist Katie Couric on whether he would support a Republican candidate:
“This is not about red states and blue states. This is not about Democrats and Republicans. This is about claiming our place as the scientific leader in scientific research and moving forward and helping our citizens. That’s all it is. It’s that simple.”
Bill Frist, former U.S. senator and Republican majority leader from Tennessee
July 29, 2005, in a speech on the Senate floor:
“I am pro-life. I believe human life begins at conception. I also believe that embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported. … An embryo is nascent human life. This position is consistent with my faith. But, to me, it isn’t just a matter of faith. It’s a fact of science.”
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah
July 23, 2006, commenting on President Bush’s veto of federal funding for stem cell research using human embryos, CBS News Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood:
“I understand that many have ethical and moral reservations about stem cell research, but for the same reason I describe myself as pro-life, I embrace embryonic stem cell research because I believe being pro-life is not only caring for the unborn but also caring for the living.”
Dr. Leon Kass, former chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics
Oct. 8, 2004, in his Washington Post op-ed piece, “Playing Politics With the Sick.”
“The moral issue does not disappear just because the embryos are very small or because they are no longer wanted for reproductive purposes: Because they are living human embryos, destroying them is not a morally neutral act. Just as no society can afford to be callous to the needs of suffering humanity, none can afford to be cavalier about how it treats nascent human life.”
James Thomson, first scientist to isolate and culture embryonic stem cells
June 2005, in response to a question on how he feels about the moral implications of using components of human life for future embryonic stem cell research, in an interview with MSNBC’s Alan Boyle:
“[T]he bottom line is that there are 400,000 frozen embryos in the United States, and a large percentage of those are going to be thrown out. Regardless of what you think the moral status of those embryos is, it makes sense to me that it’s a better moral decision to use them to help people than just to throw them out. It’s a very complex issue, but to me it boils down to that one thing.”
Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals quarterback and founder of First Things First Foundation
Oct. 27, 2006, in a TV ad in response to advertisements advocating stem cell research in Missouri:
“I am all for finding a cure for any and every disease known to man, but there are certain issues that outweigh just finding a cure and doing research and life is one of those. … As much as I’m for research, nothing outweighs the pro-life issue. [With embryonic stem cell research] you’re taking human life.”
J.C. Watts, former U.S. congressman from Oklahoma
Aug. 12, 2001, in response to a question on whether he considers the president to be “pro-life,” CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer:
“There’s just too many areas that are inconclusive out there for us to get on a slippery slope to say we should take life in order to enhance life.”
Laurie Zoloth, Ph.D., professor of medical humanities & bioethics and religion, director of Center for Bioethics, Northwestern University
Sept. 29, 2004, in a congressional testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space:
“While I respect that this is a difference in theology [regarding the moral status of a human child], and while I understand the passion and the conviction of those for whom the blastocyst is a person from the moment of fertilization, I do not believe this, and it is [a] matter of faith for me as well. My passion and my conviction are toward the suffering of the one I see in need, ill or wounded.”