WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Embryonic Stemcell Research at the nub of existence

Father James B Lyons

Can human gametes and embryos be used for research in New Zealand? I believe that is the question you are considering. While I have no doubt you are aware of the enormous responsibility given you in this task, and that you seek only the best and truest outcomes, I wish, as an ordinary New Zealander, to stress my concern that what you are considering has, as yet, unforeseen consequences for all life.

Your consideration needs to be above emotion – even while it cannot be devoid of feeling. Nor can it be wholly, or purely, scientific, even though the world of science and technology has brought this question to you. There are ethics and morality involved, for the question touches the essence of existence and our connectedness to one another.

Just recently we have been alerted to highly likely scenarios as a result of climate change. Environmental issues have suddenly become issues of life and death for everyone, everywhere.

What we thought could take care of itself, or could be manipulated with impunity, or was simply for our use, namely, our Earth, is suddenly at risk. Surely there are lessons here for anyone proposing to interfere with or alter genetics relative to human life.

Yes, it is good to seek cures for known diseases and to improve the quality of life. But at what risk? What might be unleashed as a result of premature or ill-considered decisions? Do not allow the desire to be first with a breakthrough, or political or commercial pressure, to influence you.

Consider carefully the means by which you propose to advance your research. Just as Earth has been an innocent victim of our environmental greed and our misguided belief that we humans can make all the rules, so we risk incurring a similar injustice on our very own species.

I do not believe the present proposed research involving the destruction of human embryos is the only way to achieve the sought after gains. For our own sake, and in the light of our tarnished record as caregivers of Earth and of Life, I urge you to draw back from any decision that could result in further, irreversible abuse.

Father James B Lyons is Parish Priest of Ss Peter and Paul Parish, Lower Hutt.