Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources





Abbott says new stem cells book goes beyond religion

Federal Minister for Health and Ageing Tony Abbott has launched a new book on the ethics of stem cell technology, saying that it reflects "not just religious truth but human truth".

The book, Stem Cells: Science, Medicine, Law and Ethics, was written by ethicists Fr Norman Ford SDB (pictured right) and Michael Herbert (pictured left), and published by St Pauls Publications.

It contains scientific, medical, legal, therapeutical and ethical perspectives on stem cell research. It is designed to inform public debate on the costs and benefits of embryonic stem cell therapies as laws are introduced to permit and regulate research using stem cells.

Mr Abbott, a former seminarian, said he was pleased to launch the book, which stands in the long and glorious tradition of the teaching Church, 'a tradition that promotes knowledge not in isolation but in the context of strong ethical values.'

He noted that some people may dismiss this book as what one would expect from a Catholic priest and a committed Christian.

"But what Fr Ford and Mr Herbert have written is not just religious truth but human truth," he said.

He added that the foundation of our ethical system is 'the notion that every human being is worthy of respect'.

"There are some things you just cannot do to another human being," he said. "This is the principle that underlies everything written in the book. In our enthusiasm for a cause we can sometimes forget fundamental ethical principles."

The authors of the book, Fr Norman Ford, an ethicist, and Michael Herbert, a scientist, both work for the Caroline Chisholm Centre for Health Ethics in Melbourne. The Centre co-sponsored the publication of the book along with St Pauls Publications.

While arguing that it is unethical to destroy human embryos to obtain stem cells, Fr Ford does note the great potential offered by certain embryonic germ cells that can be ethically derived from miscarried foetuses up to nine weeks old.

Federal Minister, Tony Abbott, launches book on stem cells

Mercy Health & Aged Care: Caroline Chisholm Centre
St Pauls Publications | Stem Cells: Science, Medicine, Law and Ethics

2 Mar 2004