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United States Bishops
Sometimes it is wrongly said that the Catholic Church opposes stem cell research.
In fact, the Church supports ethically responsible stem cell research, while opposing
any research that exploits or destroys human embryos.
Because the Church opposes deliberately destroying innocent human life at any stage,
for research or any other purpose, it opposes embryonic stem cell research as currently
conducted. However, when scientists proposed avenues for possibly obtaining embryonic
stem cells or their pluripotent equivalent without creating or harming embryos,
Catholic leaders were among the first to welcome the idea.
The Catholic Church has long supported research using stem cells from adult tissue
and umbilical cord blood, which poses no moral problem. Catholic institutions at
times have taken the lead in promoting such constructive research, which is already
providing cures and treatments for suffering patients.
Statement of Rev. Joseph W. Kukura, President, Catholic HealthCare Partnership of
We, the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey, have great compassion for those who suffer
from illnesses and look to... research to cure or otherwise treat their disease,
and that is why we support research on adult stem cells. Adult stem cells come from
adult tissue, placentas, or umbilical cord blood and can be retrieved without harming
the donor. The only way to obtain embryonic stem cells, however, is to kill the
living human embryo. Adult stem cells have helped hundreds of thousands of patients,
and new clinical uses expand almost weekly. By contrast, embryonic stem cells have
not helped a single human patient or demonstrated any therapeutic benefit.
During the last year, I have had exciting conversations about advances in what the
experts call "bench to bedside" stem cell therapies. Dr. Gary Friedman, a co-founder
of the New Jersey Stem Cell Research & Education Foundation, is a practicing nephrologists
and solid organ transplant physician. In his words: As a transplant physician, I
know first-hand how desperately mankind needs alternatives to the current state
of medicine. Stem cells derived from umbilical cord and placenta blood are accomplishing
"miracles" even as we speak. Each time I speak with Dr. Friedman I learn of new
achievements in adult stem cell usage and near-term promises. Donation of umbilical
cord and placenta blood is key to future usage and development of stem cell therapies.
Over 20,000 babies are born in the Catholic hospitals of New Jersey each year. Obviously
this number of births provides a fertile field of umbilical cord and placenta blood
donation. The ethical principles of our Catholic health care tradition demand that
we step up to the plate and support and encourage this donation.
Some of our hospitals are already involved in the public umbilical cord and placental
blood initiative of our State. They work closely with Community Blood Services in
Paramus and the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden. We have already
added to that number and soon all of the Catholic hospitals, which have OB services,
will be part of this effort.
One of the urgent needs of current stem cell usage of umbilical cord and placenta
blood is blood from minority populations. Since the majority of our Catholic hospitals
in New Jersey are in urban areas, we feel that, through proper education and support,
we will be able to answer this challenge.
Success in this endeavor will only come through proper education of the members
of our staffs and those in positions of influence. In the years that lie ahead,
we pledge that we will do all in our power to encourage the donation of umbilical
cord and placenta blood so that these "miracles" can come true.
Northern New Jersey
The Elie Katz Umbilical
Cord Blood Program at Community Blood Services
Web site: http://www.communitybloodservices.org
The Florida Catholic Conference, Supporting Ethical Stem Cell Research in Florida
Do No Harm: A Coalition
of Americans for Research Ethics
United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, Secretariat for Pro