Offensive language

The incoherent and contradictory language of those sections of Massachusetts Senate Bill 2124, the economic stimulus package, that deal with cloning and embryo research is disturbing.

On Nov. 5 the Senate approved language buried in the broader economic bill that endorses destructive fetal research and cloning.

Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, has analyzed those sections of the bill and has concluded that the Massachusetts’ Legislature would become “a laughing stock” if it were to pass the bill.

The legislation is full of errors in terminology, most likely the result of its rushed creation. For example, the bill calls for an embryo to give “informed consent” before its stem cells can be used for research. This is because, according to the bill, consent must be obtained from the “person from whose body the donation originates” before stem cells can be utilized. Of course, stem cells can be derived from adult cells or umbilical cord blood, but how can one obtain consent from the unborn child from whose body embryonic stem cells are taken? And this is but one example.

Even if it were re-written to fix the many terminological errors, the bill promotes procedures that are morally offensive to a large number of citizens and does so without broad discussion or debate.

The bill is now in the conference committee that will reconcile the House and the Senate versions. Those provisions endorsing cloning and embryonic stem cell research must be eliminated entirely from S. 2124 before it goes to the governor’s desk. Along with the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, we encourage you to call House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran (617-722-2500) and urge him to strike those offensive sections from the bill.