By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

BRASILIA, March 3, 2008 ( – The Supreme Court of Brazil will issue a decision on March 5th on the personhood of human embryos, and in the process will determine if scientists will be permitted to kill them in the process of medical research.

  The dispute before the court regards the fifth article of the nation’s Biosecurity Law, which authorizes scientific experiments on embryonic stem cells.  Such research results in the deaths of countless human embryos, and, unlike adult stem cell research, has not produced a single cure.

  Although a majority of the jurists on the nation’s Supreme Court regard themselves as “Catholic”, many observers believe that they will vote against the personhood of human embryos and allow research that destroys them.

  The current president of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB), Geraldo Lyrio Rocha, warned in a press release that a decision that allowed embryos to be destroyed would open the door to abortion, and denounced the tactics used to promote the practice.

“To save one and kill another is not the answer,” said Lyrio Rocha, adding that “the Church doesn’t agree with the manipulation of the feelings of people and their desire to live, of their hope to find a cure, with falsified information.  It isn’t only reprehensible, it is inhuman.  We are going to give correct and certain information, and not feed people’s false expectations.”

  Darcísio Perondi, a delegate to the national Chamber of Deputies, denies that an abortion is occurring, because the embryos are never implanted in a mother’s womb.  Rather, they are “discarded” after being created in a laboratory.  “Those embryos normally are discarded after three years and are going to end up in the trash.  It’s preferable that they should be donated for research, because they might result in treatments for many illnesses,” he told Radio Progresso of Ijui.

  Fr. Luiz Carlos Lodi da Cruz, a well-known Brazilian pro-life activist, says that proponents of embryonic stem cell research consistently ignore the issue of the humanity of the unborn.

“It’s interesting to note that none of the speakers favoring the destruction of embryos dared to say that they are not individual human beings,” wrote Lodi da Cruz recently in the online journal Media Without a Mask. “What’s more, they said that they ‘don’t know.’   In a general way, they tried to say that that question is unimportant from the perspective of curing degenerative diseases through the use of embryonic stem cells.”

“But as they were debating with high-caliber pro-life scientists, they couldn’t use the deceptive propaganda in the Supreme Court that they used in the Chamber (of Deputies) or Senate.  They were constrained to admit that up to now no one has been cured with embryonic stem cell transplants, at the same time that research with adult stem cells (that do not require the destruction of embryos) had had great therapeutic success.”