South Dakota Catholic Bishop Says Don’t Sign Petition for Embryonic Research

Pierre, SD ( — Pierre, SD ( — Former South Dakota Secretary of State David Volk wants to overturn a state law that bans the creation and destruction of human embryos for research. Volk will need to collect more than 16,000 signatures to bring the issue to a vote in the 2010 elections. Catholic Bishop Paul Swain is urging Catholics not to sign the petition. His new statement says, in part: “South Dakota has established a thoughtful and ethical approach to such research. There currently is no ban on stem cell research in South Dakota. The state does, however, prohibit embryonic stem cell research. This should not be weakened or repealed. State laws support and encourage adult stem cell research, as does the Church. Adult stem cell research has already helped thousands of human patients suffering from over 70 different conditions such as heart disease, spinal cord injuries, juvenile diabetes and many cancers. Adult stem cells, whether taken from adult tissues (like skin or bone marrow) or umbilical cord blood, have proven to be versatile and successful, and do not involve serious ethical concerns. Embryonic stem cell research always involves the destruction of human embryos, human life. Despite the fact that millions of dollars have been spent on embryonic stem cell research in other states, no cures or treatments have been discovered to date. The taking of innocent human life is a grave moral evil with which we must never cooperate or endorse. To be consistent with this Church teaching, Catholics should not circulate or sign a petition to place it on the ballot. Nor should Catholics vote for it should that effort be successful.”

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