Thursday, January 1, 2009

"mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition"

There is a letter in today's Times of Trenton ("The Beauty of Science is Skin-Deep"), which very much necessitates your speedy response. The letter appears to infer that it is now possible to ethically obtain human embryonic stem cells. Evangilium Vitae and Dignitas Personae specifically caution against such over-stepping.

As per Section 30 of Dignitas Personae, "The ethical objections raised in many quarters to therapeutic cloning and to the use of human embryos formed in vitro have led some researchers to propose new techniques which are presented as capable of producing stem cells of an embryonic type without implying the destruction of true human embryos [As per the footnote, "The new techniques of this kind are, for example, the use of human parthenogenesis, altered nuclear transfer (ANT) and oocyte assisted reprogramming (OAR)."]. These proposals have been met with questions of both a scientific and an ethical nature regarding above all the ontological status of the 'product' obtained in this way. Until these doubts have been clarified, the statement of the Encyclical Evangelium vitae needs to be kept in mind: 'what is at stake is so important that, from the standpoint of moral obligation, the mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo'."

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