GBCS General Secretary Calls on President Bush to Extend Moratorium on Human Embryo Stem Cell Research

Date: 04/27/2001

The General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society, Jim Winkler, has sent a letter to fellow United Methodist and President George W. Bush, urging him to continue to impose “an extended moratorium” on human embryo stem cell research. The General Board of Church of Society of The United Methodist Church is the denomination’s international social witness and advocacy agency, with offices in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Winkler, noting that Bush promised to make a decision on human embryo stem cell research by the end of July, said that “after prayerful reflection… and careful reading of official United Methodist policy and teachings,” that he was urging the moratorium “on the destruction of human embryos for the purpose of stem cell or other research.”

The United Methodist Church has called for a complete and total ban on human cloning, including embryo cloning, for any purpose. Speaking through its only official voice, the General Conference, which met in May 2000, the church called for a ban on human cloning and “procedures that intentionally generate ‘waste [human] embryos’ which will knowingly be destroyed.” (2000 Book of Resolutions, p. 249.)

“Destroying human embryos for the sole purpose of carrying on scientific research that promises only the possibility of potential treatments with little concrete evidence of success again raises profound and disturbing moral and ethical issues,” Winkler wrote in the letter. “Such practices seem to be destructive of human dignity and speed us further down the path that ignores the sacred dimensions of life and personhood and turns life into a commodity to be manipulated, controlled, patented and sold.”

The United Methodist Church has engaged in a focused, formal study of genetics and biotechnology since 1988. The church has called for support of appropriate somatic cell research and treatment that respects human dignity.

Only General Conference speaks officially for The United Methodist Church. The General Board of Church and Society is the international public witness and advocacy agency of the church.