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Chapter 29. Fifth Commandment: Promote the Culture of Life • 393

Some argue that the good obtained by healing serious diseases justi-

fies the destruction of some human embryos. But this reduces a human

being to a mere object for use. It assumes there are no moral absolutes

that must be held in all circumstances. It violates the moral principle that

the end does not justify the means. Embryonic stem-cell research is an

immoral means to a good end. It is morally unacceptable.

Similarly, cloning, whether for reproductive or therapeutic uses, is

immoral on many levels, not the least of which is because it too involves

the destruction of human embryos.

No objective, even though noble in itself, such as a foreseeable

advantage to science, to other human beings, or to society, can

in any way justify experimentation on living human embryos

or fetuses, whether viable or not, either inside or outside the

mother’s body. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,

Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on

the Dignity of Procreation

[Vatican City: Libreria Editrice

Vaticana, 1987])

On the other hand, stem cells can be obtained from adults with their

informed consent. The federal government has spent millions of dol-

lars on this research. Stem cells from placenta, bone marrow, and the

umbilical cord are being used to treat leukemia. This is a promising field

of research and does not involve the moral implications of embryonic

stem-cell research.

Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide

Intentional euthanasia, sometimes called mercy killing, is murder.

Regardless of the motives or means, euthanasia consists of putting to

death those who are sick, are disabled, or are dying. It is morally unac-

ceptable. The emergence of physician-assisted suicide, popularized by

the right-to-die movement, seeks to legalize what is an immoral act. Its

advocates plan to achieve this on a state-by-state basis.

Suicide is gravely sinful whether committed alone or aided by a doc-

tor. Serious psychological disturbances, anxiety, fear of suffering, or tor-

ture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. The