The Maryland Catholic Conference called for the elimination of state funding for embryonic stem cell research during a Feb. 21 hearing on the issue in Annapolis.
The Catholic Church opposes embryonic stem cell research because it causes the destruction of human life.
Nancy Paltell, associate director for the respect for life department of the Maryland Catholic Conference, told members of a subcommittee of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee that there are other, ethical ways of conducting stem cell research that do not require the destruction of embryos.
She highlighted two 2007 studies that showed human skin cells can be reprogrammed to produce stem cells that have all the benefits of embryonic stem cells “without the ethical and medical hazards involved in obtaining and using embryonic stem cells,” she said.
“These stem cells (induced pluripotent cells) are obtained without destroying human embryos and without exploiting women for their eggs,” she said. “The technique used to produce the cells is technically superior to techniques used to obtain embryonic stem cells, and is relatively simple to conduct.”
Ms. Paltell said the money earmarked for stem cell research in Maryland should be invested in research that is “morally acceptable and most medically promising.”
The MCC urged the elimination of the $23 million appropriated for the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund because the funding of “ethical forms” of stem cell research is currently “inextricably entwined” with the funding of unethical types of stem cell research.”
“Until legislation can be introduced to modify the conditions of the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund to eliminate funding embryonic stem cell research, we can’t support appropriating money for the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund,” Ms. Paltell said.