Bishops Criticize Proposal to Allow EU Funding to stem cell research

European bishops expressed their dismay over the European Parliament's decision to support destructive research on human embryos.

"We are deeply concerned by the European Parliament's proposal to allow EU funding for research that will involve the destruction of human embryos," the secretary-general of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, Monsignor Noel Treanor, said in a statement issued after today's vote.

"Such research raises fundamental moral problems. For this reason, several EU member states do not permit it under their own legislation and are opposed to the allocation of funds for it from the common EU budget," he added.

The Parliament called for the European Union to fund research using human embryonic stem cells and involving the destruction of human embryos under the Sixth EU Research Framework Program.

The proposal, adopted 291-235, would remove the condition proposed by the commission that only human embryos created before the cutoff date of June 27, 2002, could be used -- and therefore destroyed -- in order to obtain the embryonic stem cells.

"This would raise the troubling possibility of indirect incentives for the creation of human embryos in order to obtain new embryonic stem cells for EU-funded research," Monsignor Treanor noted.

"In our view, every human life begins at conception and must not be violated, whatever the hoped-for benefits," he said. "We therefore remain opposed in principle to the destruction of any human embryo in order to obtain embryonic stem cells."

"We urge the Council of Ministers not to approve the use of EU funds for research that involves the destruction of human embryos. It should be noted that the Parliament's opinion, adopted under the consultation procedure, is not binding on the council," he added.

"We also restate our support for scientific research in general, and for research using adult stem cells in particular," his statement concluded.

The Council of Ministers of the European Union is expected to take a final decision on the ethical guidelines at a Nov. 27 meeting in Brussels.