The National Institutes of Health recently anounced a proposal to lift the year-old moratorium on the creation of human-animal hybrids, or chimeras, for medical research. Some scientists hope to insert human embryonic stem cells into animal embryos in order to map human diseases in animals, develop treatments and cures, and grow human organs for transplant. Other scientists oppose this research because of its ethical and moral implications. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has decried the proposal of the NIH and called for the ban to remain in effect.
Given these ethical and moral issues, what does the Catholic Church teach regarding the care and use of human embryonic stem cells and the creation of human-animal hybrids? How should scientists and medical researchers use the guidance of the Church in their work? This month’s Teaching the Faith with Current Events eLesson examines these issues in the light of Catholic teaching. By analyzing excerpts from Donum Vitae and Dignitas Personae and related information, students can begin to form a basic moral foundation that will help them answer these challenging questions of modern biomedical ethics.