President Bush Signs Congressional Measure to Prohibit Fetal Farming

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 19, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Bush Signs Congressional Measure to Prohibit Fetal Farming

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 19, 2006

Washington, DC ( — At the same time President Bush vetoed a measure that would have spent tax dollars on embryonic stem cell research, he signed a bill that would prohibit the grisly practice known as fetal farming. The measure makes it a crime to create, acquire, or traffic in tissue derived from a human embryo created and grown specifically for tissue harvesting.

Fetal farming involves human embryos who are specifically implanted in a woman’s womb for the sole purpose of killing them months later for their tissue for research.

"We must continue to explore these hopeful alternatives and advance the cause of scientific research while staying true to the ideals of a decent and humane society," President Bush said. "The bill I sign today upholds these humane ideals and draws an important ethical line to guide our research."

"This good law prohibits one of the most egregious abuses in biomedical research, the trafficking in human fetuses that are created with the sole intent of aborting them to harvest their parts," the president added.

"Human beings are not a raw material to be exploited, or a commodity to be bought or sold, and this bill will help ensure that we respect the fundamental ethical line," Bush said.

The Senate approved the measure, S. 3504, on a unanimous 100-0 vote Tuesday afternoon, and the House approved it unanimously as well later in the day.

Senator Rick Santorum, a pro-life Pennsylvania Republican, was the leading sponsor of the bill on the Senate side and pro-life Rep. Dave Weldon of Florida, a medical doctor, directed it on the House side. The president singled both out for recognition during his Wednesday speech.

"This bill simply ensures that we don’t cross the line of implanting embryos and growing them in a purely utilitarian way should these cells ever become desirable for research," Santorum has said.

During the debate in both the House and Senate, embryonic stem cell research supporters said the measure would ban a practice that doesn’t exist.

However, Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, says cloning researchers are rapidly progressing down the road towards fetus farms.

"Some may wrongly believe that fetus farming is science fiction, but in reality, American researchers have already gestated cloned calves to four months before aborting them to harvest their kidney and heart tissue," Johnson told

Johnson points to the June 2005 issue of "Cloning and Stem Cells," a technical journal. In an article, Dr. Robert Lanza and other researchers at Advanced Cell Technology reported they created cloned cow fetuses, grew them in utero in adult cows to four months, performed abortions and used the liver tissue from the aborted cow fetuses for experiments and transplants.

The same could be done in humans, Johnson contends, especially if some sort of "artificial womb" is ever created.

"We need to enact the Santorum-Weldon bill now in order to prevent biotech firms from pursing such experiments with humans," Johnson told

The president called for passage of the bill before.

In April 2002, President Bush warned that human cloning will lead to experimental human beings, "human embryo farms," and "a society in which human beings are grown for spare body parts and children are engineered to custom specifications."

Related web sites:
Rep. Dave Weldon –
National Right to Life –
Info on Fetus Farming –