To the editor:
Catholic bishops in Missouri, as teachers and as citizens in the state, are active participants in the stem-cell debate. We support stem-cell research which does not depend upon creating and then destroying human embryos.
Recent articles state that the question of when life begins lies at the heart of the dispute over embryonic stem-cell research. It is not a religious belief but a biological fact that what supporters of Amendment 2 refer to as a clump of cells is, indeed, human and living. Human life is present from the beginning of cell division. Every one of us was such a clump in our earliest development. If the organism in a petri dish were not human and living, it would not be wanted for research.
Amendment 2 proponents say they are against human cloning, but they limit the term to the implanting of a cloned embryo in a woman. Some researchers using cloned embryos for research accurately identify the initiation of their process as cloning. They, more clearly than Amendment 2 supporters, describe what takes place in a petri dish.
I invite faithful Catholics to join many other Missouri citizens in opposing Amendment 2 because we strongly object to scientifically creating human clones and then destroying them for their stem cells. Cures for diseases and illnesses are desired by everyone. But what is desired and hoped for must be examined in the light of ethical standards which respect the humanness of incipient life, whether in the womb or a petri dish.
Bishop JOHN J. LEIBRECHT, Diocese of Springfield- Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Mo.