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January 16, 1998     The Message
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January 16, 1998

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10 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Human clone would be JP image of man, not God, says VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A human clone would be created in the image and likeness of man, not God, a Vatican official said. Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice presi- dent of the Pontifical Academy for Life and director of the Bioethics Institute at Rome's Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, told Vatican Radio . human cloning would be "the most seri- ous" violation of natural and divine laws .... regarding procreation. "In a formal way, it was already declared seriously illicit in 1987" in a document on the dignity of human procreation issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Bishop Sgreccia told the radio Jan. 8. The bishop's comments came in the wake of grow- ing media coverage of the announcement by a Chicago scientist that he was prepared to attempt to clone a human being. The scientist, Richard Seed, has said he is assembling a team of doctors to help him clone a human embryo and implant it in a woman's womb. Four infertile cou- ples have volunteered and have been selected for the experiment, he said, but he still needs investors to help him pay for the preparations and procedure. Bishop Sgreccia said human cloning would be con- trary to nature and to divine law because every person has the right to be conceived and to be born within mar- riage and from marriage. Cloning takes place "outside the exercise of sexuality and is agamic, that is, without the contribution of a man and a woman. It uses only rying to clone a human being would be "an affront to Almighty the genes of one individual to make a photocopy of this individual," he said. Cloning, the bishop said, "represents a dominion by man over man and includes a kind of desire to replace God's plans in an arbitrary and complete way, creating man in man's image and likeness." Bishop Sgreccia said the condemnations by the Catholic Church, other religions and ethicists is not enough; "the law must intervene." "The law must prohibit this instance of man's abuse of man, this enslavement of the human body of another person," he said. President Bill Clinton already has funding of human cloning al bioethics commission has gress pass legislation banning To attempt cloning a hu ous sin," said Franciscan Father theologian who writes for paper. If Seed does try to clone a would be "an the laws on God." FatherConcetti told The Franciscan priest said would be "an affront not only to nature and good sense: Human cloning even in cases in which a couple is other possibility for overcoming 1 The fundamental problem, he said, "is life would be reproduced in a just any old instrument or chemical that a human being is a person with rimony, inviolable rights and the1 divinity." Oregon foes of assisted suicide fear national group's By ED LANGLOIS Catholic News Service PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) The move to Oregon of a promi- nent group that supports a right to die will boost physician- assisted suicides, say" foes of the practice. Compassion in Dying, now will enable depressed patients to commit suicide instead of seek- ing psychological counseling or good pain management. He cited cases in which the Hemlock Society and renegade pathologist Dr. Jack Kevorkian engineered suicides for people who had no terminal physical illness. etting up a consultative service to help people in killing themselves is misguided at best and dangerous at worst. based in Seattle, will transfer its headquarters to Oregon, where voters in November affirmed the nation's only law removing penalties for doctors who help patients die. The organization also plans to establish a statewide network of suicide counselors by June 1. Founded in 1993, the organiza- tion has guided dozens of patients toward hastened death, even while Washington law for- bids assisted suicide. Compassion in Dying was a major force in appealing Wash- ington and New York's bans on assisted suicide all the way to the US. Supreme Court. "They are trying to really become entrenched as a group here in Oregon/' said Dr. Bill Tof- tier, president of the Physicians for Compassionate Care and a member of Holy Rosary Parish in Portland. "Unfortunately, their whole paradigm of setting up a consul- tative service to help people in killing themselves is misguided at best and dangerous at worst," he told the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Portland Arch- diocese. Toffler, who teaches and prac- tices at Oregon Health Sciences University, said the new network Toffler contrasted the suicide network to hospice programs that offer pain control, counsel- ing and spiritual support to patients who are beyond cure. "The people'Who enter hos- pice'care feel desperate, too, but almost no one commits suicide," he said. Compassion in Dying's direc- tor, Barbara Coombs Lee, helped write Oregon's 1994 Death with Dignity Act and spent much of 1997 defending the suicide law against a repeal effort. Oregon voters in November affirmed their choice for doctor- aided death by a margin of 60-40 percent. She said the planned network of counselors in Oregon "will have a substantial impact on the quality of decision making and the choices available to family and patients." "Our intention," she added, "is to make mental health pro- fessionals and clergy available to patients and theft families so that they will feel fully supported." Lee predicted that fewer, not more, patients will choose sui- cide because of the network. The counselors, she said, will tell patients about all their options, including hospice and better pain care. "We don't want people to think they have only one choice," said Lee. Compassion in Dying is open- ing its Oregon office with a $50,000 grant from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation of San Francisco. With the help of Salem oncol- ogist Peter Rasmussen, Compas- sion in Dying is at the same time offering doctors new guidelines for assist- ing in suicide as well as a recipe for lethal d rugs, which doctors are now allowed by law to prescribe. The 10-page docu- ment will be given only to those The relocation of Compassion in Dying to Oregon "is another symbol of acceptance, another bit of encouragement to physicians," said Gayle Atteberry, executive director of Oregon Right to Life. "For those who want to partici- pate, it will embolden them. It will encourage those in the mid- dle of the road." She also predicted Compas- sion in Dying will find loopholes in the law and will be active in making sure "there is a rosy face on everything, helping to publi- cize what they call good cases and help squelch the bad ones." Oregon, added Atteberr); will be the org ground before move into o Other groupS gon's suicide law Providence Health PeaceHealth, both health organizat Northwest; that is trying control and end of life. The Oregon tion has be and considering for their patientS. asked to promote ve By MARK PATTISON Catholic News Service WASHINGTON '(CNS) -- The organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has sent letters to each U.S. Catholic bishop as well as Protestant religious figures ask- ing them to promote vegetari- anism to their faithful. The letters argue that God commanded a vegetarian diet in the book of Genesis, that Jesus was a vegetarian, and that Christ distributed no fish in the Gospels' account of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Bruce Friedrich, a Catholic convert who is coordinator of PETA's vegetarian campaign and author of the letters, said he was prompted by the U.S. bish- ops' decision to study a return to Friday abstinence from meat as part of their pro-life efforts. "Of course, fish is not a real alternative. They're dead animals, too," Friedrich told Catholic News Service in a Jan. 7 tele- phone interview from PETA headquarters in Norfolk, Va. In his Friedrich said for a vegetarian Genesis 1:29. In the J can Bible, all over that has seed-bearing be your food." The I: God gives n, the fish of the sea, air, and all by Frie& ter that "t dence that a But a New interviewed by' with Friedrich's 'Tve never before," said Joseph of ington. something, but This is so I'm afraid up the wrong open communication and insists that patients can change their minds any time. Along with a concoction of barbiturate powder and pud- ding, the protocol suggests anti- nausea drugs and, a dose that will keep the body's natural defenses from fighting the poi- son. According to Compassion in Dying, the recipe came out of experiences with two dozen peo- ple who took their own lives with the help of the organization. According to reports from right-to-die groups, a handful of patients have begun the process to use the Oregon suicide law. The law, first passed in 1994 by a slim margin, requires that two doctors independently decide that a patient who wants suicide has six months or less to live. If the doctors guess that a patient is being forced to commit suicide or is suffering from depression, they must intercede. Foes of suicide, including many Catholic groups, argue that the law lacks safeguards that will protect patients from nefarious or coerced deaths. doctors who. have a patient Bishops, religious leaders requesting death. It encourages