Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-1999

Publication Title

Health Progress

Volume

80

Issue

5

Pages

37-42

Publisher Name

Catholic Health Association of the United States

Abstract

In November 1998 biologists announced that they had discovered a way to isolate and preserve human stem cells. Since stem cells are capable of developing into any kind of human tissue or organ, this was a great scientific coup. Researchers envision using the cells to replace damaged organs and to restore tissue destroyed by, for example, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, or even Alzheimer's. But, since stem cells are taken from aborted embryonic and fetal tissue or "leftover" in vitro embryos, their use raises large ethical issues. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently decided to fund research employing, not stem cells, but "cell lines" derived from them. The NIH has essentially made an ethical determination, finding sufficient "distance" between cell lines and abortion. Can Catholic universities sponsoring biological research agree with this finding? Probably not. In Catholic teaching, the concept of "complicity" would likely preclude such research. However, Catholic teaching would probably allow research done with stem cells obtained from postpartum placental tissue and from adult bone marrow and tissue. These cells, which lack the pluripotency of embryonic and fetal stem cells, are nevertheless scientifically promising and do not involve the destruction of human life.

Identifier

1943-3417

Comments

Author Posting. © Catholic Health Association of the United States, 1999. This article is posted here for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Health Progress, Vol. 80, Iss. 5 (1999) http://www.chausa.org/publications/health-progress

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Included in

Religion Commons

Share

COinS