Delegates tackle bio-ethical issues

The production of embryos for purely research purposes is wrong, the United Methodist Church declared May 6.

The church opposes the creation of embryos “with the intention of destroying them for research purposes.” By a 708-171 vote, the assembly further stated, “Neither should we, even for reproductive purposes, produce more embryos than we can expect to introduce into the womb in the hope of implantation.”

That was one of series of actions on bioethical issues addressed May 6 by the top legislative body of the 10-million denomination.

The statement also disputes the practice of using embryonic stem cells in the practice of “therapeutic cloning.”

Delegates also supported “those persons who wish to enhance medical research by donating their early embryos remaining after in-vitro fertilization procedures have ended.”

The church calls upon the U.S. government to authorize funding for research on embryonic stem cells that were generated for in-vitro fertilization and remain after the fertilization procedures have been concluded, and to establish an oversight body for public and private stem-cell research.

In other action, General Conference delegates voted 467-421 to create a task force to “prayerfully research” the many issues surrounding artificial insemination and other reproductive methods.

The task force is asked to report its findings on “the theological, ethical and moral framework of artificial insemination to guide the people called United Methodists” to the 2008 General Conference.

A proposed $100,000 for the task force is under consideration by the General Council on Finance and Administration. Delegates will consider that amount as they vote on the final budget May 7.

*Lauber is associate editor of UM Connection, the newspaper of the United Methodist Church’s Baltimore Washington Annual Conference.

News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7.  After May 10: (615) 742-5470.

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