http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/images/size340/A_scientist_holds_a_petri_dish_File_Photo_Credit_Umberto_Salvagnin_via_Flickr_CC_BY_20_CNA_2_3_15.jpgWashington D.C., Sep 6, 2016 / 04:40 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After the National Institutes of Health proposed federal funding of projects to possibly create a human-animal hybrid, Catholic ethicists voiced serious moral and legal concerns.
“For if one cannot tell to what extent, if any, the resulting organism may have human status or characteristics, it will be impossible to determine what one’s moral obligations may be regarding that organism,” Anthony Picarello and Michael Moses, general counsels for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote in Sept. 2 comments to the National Institutes of Health Office of Science Policy.
A month ago, the NIH proposed federally-funded projects to research human/animal chimeras. The projects would involve injecting embryonic stem cells into animal embryos, with “tremendous potential for disease modeling, drug testing, and perhaps eventual organ transplant,” the NIH proposal stated.
However, it recognized “ethical and animal welfare concerns” and put a temporary funding ban on such research. The NIH said it would accept public comments on the proposal through September 6.
Federal funding for new research projects involving embryonic stem cells was stopped under the Bush administration, but re-opened under the Obama administration. President Bush had expressed moral concerns about the destruction of human embryos in the research.
In comments submitted to NIH, the National Catholic Bioethics Center stated that using stem cells of human embryos for research is wrong because “human beings at these vulnerable stages must be safeguarded, not exploited, in both clinical and research settings.”
The Pontifical Academy for Life stated in 2000 that “on the basis of a complete biological analysis, the living human embryo is - from the moment of the union of the gametes - a human subject with a well-defined identity,” and that as “a human individual it has the right to its own life; and therefore every intervention which is not in favor of the embryo is an act which violates that right.”
“Therefore,” the statement added, “the ablation of the inner cell mass (ICM) of the blastocyst, which critically and irremediably damages the human embryo, curtailing its development, is a gravely immoral act and consequently is gravely illicit.”