Media Outlets Call on Congress to Reverse Protections Against Embryo Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 26, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Media Outlets Call on Congress to Reverse Protections Against Embryo Research

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 26
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Now that President Barack Obama has overturned the limits President Bush put in place to stop forcing taxpayers to fund new embryonic stem cell research, the mainstream media wants Congress to take the next step by overturning longstanding protections on embryo research.

Obama signed an executive order earlier this month requiring funding of new embryonic stem cell research that requires the destruction of human life.

Obama’s executive order only concerns human embryos who are supposedly "leftover" at fertility clinics (though it allows NIH to go further) the order doesn’t touch on the Dickey-Wicker amendment.

That’s the federal law that prohibits the specific creation of human embryos for the purpose of research as well as any research that harms an embryo, a unique human being after conception.

In a new editorial, the scientific magazine Nature calls for overturning that law and chides Obama for not urging that Congress reverse it.

"[Obama] did not mention the Dickey-Wicker amendment," Nature writes. "It was a missed opportunity to begin a necessary conversation."

"In force since 1996, the Dickey-Wicker amendment badly needs updating to fit the current research reality, if not outright repeal," Nature goes on to say.

Nature’s call for reversing the important law follows a request from the New York Times.

"Other important embryonic research is still being hobbled by the so-called Dickey-Wicker amendment," the newspaper claims. "Until that changes, scientists who want to create embryos … will have to rely on private or state support."

For bioethics author and watchdog Wesley J. Smith, Nature and the New York Times prove that the original arguments made for funding embryonic stem cell research are false.

"See, the assurances–oft stated–that all ‘the scientists’ want are ‘leftover’ embryos that were ‘going to be destroyed anyway’ was always hogwash — part of a sophisticated propaganda campaign intended to unfetter biotech from any meaningful limitations on the instrumental use of nascent human life," Smith says.

"Yet, despite these editorials, the ‘leftovers’ meme will continue to drive most media reports," he says.

"Now that Big Biotech and its supporters in Big Science and the mainstream media believe they are in the driver’s seat with regard to embryonic stem cell research, they are intent on pushing the boundaries to the next of many stages–federal funding for the creation and destruction of custom made embryos, including via cloning. But of course, that was the plan all along," Smith observes.

A battle over the Dickey-Wicker amendment could come soon.

Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, has sponsored a bill that will target the pro-life law and she has been talking with White House officials about promoting it.

“Dickey-Wicker is 13 years old now, and I think we need to review these policies,” she told the New York Times.

Pro-life advocates will fight DeGette’s move to kill more than just so-called leftover human embryos for research.

“I don’t think it will fly because the movement in the country is in favor of life,” Rep, Chris Smith of New Jersey says. "“For Congress to say that the new guinea pig will be human embryos, most Americans will find that highly offensive.”
Douglas Johnson, a spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee, also talked with about the impending battle.

"This sets the stage for an attack on the Dickey-Wicker law," he says. "Any member of Congress who votes for legislation to repeal this law is voting to allow federal funding of human embryo farms, created through the use of human cloning."

When the Clinton administration announced plans to fund destructive experiments on live human embryos, the National Institutes of Health announced its plans for funding such research in December 1994.

But pro-life Republican congressmen Jay Dickey and Roger Wicker introduced an amendment to the annual health appropriations bill to prevent this funding – – an amendment approved by Congress in 1995 and every year since.

In 1997, the language was strengthened to ensure that federal funds cannot be used to clone human embryos by the method recently used to produce Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal that ultimately had to be euthanized because of problems.

The provision also prohibits federal funds from being used for the intentional creation of embryos by IVF, cloning, or by any other means, for the purpose of their destruction and use in scientific experimentation.

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