Monday, July 24, 2006

What GC resolutions DO mean

This highly political ENS report reads like one in any newspaper, with the exception of the following deeply embedded paragraph explaining, I suppose, why this news story deserves to appear on TEC's homepage at all.

After the Episcopal Church's Ethics and New Genetics Task Force considered the moral implications of stem cell research, the 74th General Convention in 2003 passed Resolution 2003-A014, urging federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Acknowledging that "Episcopalians generally recognize that early embryos are owed special moral consideration," the task force determined that "[e]arly embryos remaining after IVF procedures have ended could morally be donated for embryonic stem cell research." In short, the church recognized that the embryos are not destined to become human life.

Does anyone know why the task force made this determination? It sounds like they acknowledge that most Episcopalians are against this sort of thing, and then go right ahead and recommend the opposite; and I wonder, upon what grounds? Did the task force push an agenda on GC03 that was (admittedly) out of favor with TEC as a whole? If so, whose agenda was it? Another prophetic action, perhaps.

I must admit to not being current on the stem-cell research debates. It sounds from the resolution that was passed in 03 as if they're convinced that life does not begin at fertilization, so the leftover fertilized embryos remaining after IVF procedures aren't living and can be used for any purpose the parent wants, so long as they aren't needed for further IVF, and so long as the parents' rights of ownership aren't violated. Yet they have a problem with embryos deliberately created for research, and a problem with embryos obtained by purchase. What's the basis for these problems? Were they bones thrown to those who oppose this kind of research altogether? If the embryo isn't alive, why worry about whether it was 'commercially produced' or bought and sold?

confusing. There's a link here to Roe v. Wade, I'm sure -- an embryo is seen as part of a woman's body, over which she exercises sovereign ownership (stewardship?) as part of the right to privacy. Given that, what's wrong with fertilizing embryos for research -- wouldn't it be akin to donating an organ? Would that make purchasing the embryos a kind of exploitation akin to prostitution?

again, confusing.

1 comment:

Jody said...

Fr. WB,

Something else to think about re: GC resolutions, especially the one dealing with Stem Cell research, is that we as the Episcopal Church have a whole lobbying office set up in the Episcopal Public Policy Network whose sole purpose is to lobby for and support legislation that is in line with GC resolutions. So, just as the Episcopal Church issued a statement in support of embryonic stem cell research look for one against any marriage amendment or in support of any legislative affirmation of homosexuality--your tithe at work.