By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

BRASILIA, BRAZIL, March 5, 2008 ( – An historic decision on the personhood of human embryos has been delayed by a procedural motion, halting the voting at 2-0 against recognizing them as human persons.

  It is believed that the justice who stopped the voting, Carlos Alberto Menezes Direito, is buying time before casting a vote in favor of recognizing the personhood of human embryos.  He asked for a “vista” which is an opportunity to review the facts before casting his vote, which gives him ten days to research a response to the previous two justices.

  The vote regards a “motion of unconstitutionality” filed against the nation’s “Biosecurity” law, passed in 2005, which allows embryonic stem cell research.  Such research destroys human embryos in order to harvest their stem cells, which proponents claim could eventually lead to cures for diseases, although none have been discovered to date.

  According to pro-life groups in Brazil, a vote against the motion, and against the personhood of human embryos, could set a precedent legalizing abortion on demand (see recent LifeSiteNews coverage at

  Most of the Supreme Court’s eleven justices, including Menezes Direito, were appointed by socialist president Luiz Lula and his predecessor, also a socialist, and are seen as generally sympathetic to embryonic stem cell research. Yesterday, Lula announced his own support for allowing such research, but claimed that he was not trying to influence the vote of the justices.

“I favor approving stem cells, because the world can’t prohibit scientific knowledge that could save humanity from many things, but  I can’t create expectations while the Supreme Court is meeting.  Every justice is well prepared to vote,” said Lula in a press conference yesterday.

  The claim that embryonic stem cell research could cure diseases, which has been repeated widely in the Brazilian press, has never been proven.  To date, no such methods have been approved for use in the United States, while adult stem cell research, which does not kill human embryos, has resulted in many successful experimental treatments.