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Catholics for Choice Welcomes Support of Embryonic Stem-Cell Research

March 9, 2009

Washington DC – Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued a statement today welcoming the reversal of restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research by President Barack Obama.

“Today’s executive order overturning the restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research is tremendously encouraging.  It marks not only a great promise of scientific advancement, but also an important step towards decoupling the moral pronouncements of the religious right from public policy and science.

“The various restrictions of the Bush Administration on scientific research, particularly stem-cell research, have been troubling for scientific advancement.  For too long, policy debates around scientific research have been dominated by the antichoice rhetoric of the religious right, even though stem-cell research is ethical and consistent with contemporary morality.

“The hierarchy of the Catholic church has often been at the center of the battle against embryonic stem-cell research, placing religious dogma at the center of their pronouncements, rather than sound scientific reasoning.  That notwithstanding, a recent poll conducted by Belden Russonello & Stewart for Catholics for Choice found that almost seven in ten Catholics in the US favor stem-cell research with early human embryos (69 percent).  A similar number support maintaining the integrity of scientific research by keeping it free from religious rhetoric, rejecting the Catholic hierarchy’s attempts to curb scientific endeavor.

“Embryonic stem-cell research holds great promise for treating or curing a variety of diseases and syndromes.  Respected scientists believe it has the potential to help find new treatments for the millions of Americans suffering from diseases like diabetes, Parkinson’s, cancer, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.  Catholics in the United States believe in the merits and potential benefits of this research even if the hierarchy chooses not to understand.

“Catholics for Choice applauds President Obama’s bold support of science and reason in the face of opposition from the Catholic hierarchy and their right wing allies. We call upon Congress to lift the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem-call research in order to fully realize President Obama’s vision and the hopes of the American public.”