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Vatican newspaper rues European court decision on stem cells

December 22, 2014

The Vatican newspaper has published a front-page article lamenting the European Court of Justice’s recent decision on stem cells.

The court, which ruled in 2011 that companies could not patent stem cells derived from human embryos, decided on December 18 that companies could patent stem cells derived through parthenogenesis from unfertilized human eggs.

“For the first time, in fact, it will be possible to patent a part of the human body, as if it were something manufactured,” Lucetta Scaraffia wrote in L’Osservatore Romano on December 20.

Scaraffia also wrote that before being embryos, all of us were ova, and that abortion was the beginning of scientists being looked upon as “masters of the life process.”

The Church’s Magisterium has consistently praised adult stem cell research and condemned embryonic stem cell research because it involves the killing of the human embryo.

In 1987, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s instruction Donum Vitae condemned the use of parthenogenesis to engender a human being, stating that “attempts or hypotheses for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through ‘twin fission,’ cloning or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to the moral law, since they are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union.”

In 2008, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s instruction Dignitas Personae discussed the use of parthenogenesis to obtain human stem cells:

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. 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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  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Dec. 23, 2014 2:48 PM ET USA

    'Before being embryos, all of us were ova',? As immoral as parthenogenesis is or may be, Miss Scaraffia makes a statement which seems to me to be simply incorrect. Ethical principles should be presented with more substance than a kind of desperate stab at a sort of loose tautology.