By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

  BRASILIA, May 30, 2008 ( – In a razor-close vote of 6-5, Brazil’s Supreme Court yesterday upheld the constitutionality of embryonic stem cell research which destroys human life at its earliest stages.

  The decision was made in response to a motion filed against article 5 of the nation’s “Biosecurity” Law, which permits the controversial research. Opponents contended that destroying a human embryo was in violation of the Constitution’s acknowledgement of the “inviolability of the right to life”.

  Although they were repeatedly informed that frozen embryos are viable indefinitely, several justices who voted in favor of the law reportedly based their decision on the claim that frozen embryos are not viable after several years.

“Embryos, once frozen, may have unlimited potential for viability, as long as they remain at the extremely low temperatures of liquid nitrogen storage,” notes the Pacific Fertility Center on its website (

  Although President Luiz Lula’s then Attorney General, Cláudio Fonteles, filed the motion against the law in 2005, the Lula administration has since expressed support for the law through the nation’s pro-abortion Health Minister José Gomes Temporão, who openly favors embryonic stem cell research.

  The decision, made by justices who had been largely appointed by Lula and his liberal predecessor, was not unexpected.  However the closeness of the decision, which split the court almost evenly, was reflective of a growing pro-life sentiment in the nation.  Although some dissenting justices were willing to allow the research with restrictions, others were only willing to allow it to the extent that it did not kill the embryo.

  According to a recent poll, opposition to decriminalizing abortion in Brazil has increased over the last year, surging from 62% to 68%.  In recent weeks the Social Security and Family Committee in the National Congress voted unanimously to reject an abortion decriminalization bill that was favored by the Lula regime and had been in process for 17 years.

  In the days preceding the decision, pro-lifers in Brazil issued an international call requesting that emails be sent to the eleven justices of the Supreme Court, urging them to strike down the law.  Protests were also held outside of the Court building.

“As it is a human life, which embryology and biology assures us is true, the human embryo has the right to the protection of the government,” said the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops in response to the ruling. 

“Whether it is in vitro or in the maternal womb does not diminish or increase that right.  It is lamentable that the Supreme Court has not confirmed that right, allowing the harvesting of embryonic human lives.”

  The decision was also denounced by Magaly Llaguno and Adolfo Castañeda of Human Life International, who echoed former abortionist Bernard Nathanson in calling embryonic stem cell research, “scientific cannibalism” and who said the ruling was “a death sentence on countless innocent human beings”.

  Embryonic stem cell research is touted as a potential cure for diseases, although it has never yielded a single approved treatment in the United States.  Conversely, adult stem cell therapies, which do not destroy human life, have yielded over 70 treatments to date.