By Peter J. Smith

BERLIN, January 3, 2008 ( – The Council President of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Dr. Wolfgang Huber, has declared his support for postponing the cut-off date for embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) for the sake of high-level research purposes.

According to the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau, Dr. Huber said over the weekend that if the currently available stem cell lines were insufficient, the deadline could be postponed for high-level research. The Bundestag, the German national parliament, is expected to make a decision on cutting off ESCR before Easter.

Dr. Huber said that research with adult stem cells will eventually make embryonic stem-cell research unnecessary, but said that ESCR was necessary for developing therapeutic advances. Dr. Huber’s statements echo Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan, who in November attributed the recent Japanese breakthrough in adult stem cell research to “knowledge gained from research on embryonic stem cells.” (

However, Dr. Huber, who has repeated his demand for “respect for human life in its early stages” couched his position in terms of just advocating an extension of Germany’s current policy that prohibits the destruction of human embryos for stem cell research, but permits scientists to experiment with imported stem cells from destroyed human embryos.

“The research using embryonic stem cells is ethically a dangerous balancing act. Embryos we may not understand as things,” the Bishop made clear.

The Evangelical bishop’s line-of-reasoning may be derived from some hope of creating a compromise, which he said in a January 2002 article for Chrismon magazine “must accomplish one thing above all: it must express our respect for human life even in its early stages.”

 “It must continue to exclude the production of human life for research purposes, as something which is regarded merely as a means to an end,” Dr. Huber wrote then. He did not address, however, the apparent moral inconsistency of how any compromise could be achieved between respect for life and research that necessitates the destruction of human embryos at some point.

Translation of Frankfurter Rundschau article courtesy of

See Bishop Huber’s January 2002 article:…

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