Deadline Soon to Oppose Obama Overturning Embryonic Stem Cell Funding Limits

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 20, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Deadline Soon to Oppose Obama Overturning Embryonic Stem Cell Funding Limits

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 20
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — For the millions of Americans who oppose President Barack Obama’s decision to overturn the limits on forcing taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research, the deadline to respond is coming soon. The public comment period on the decision expires next Tuesday, May 26.

In March, Obama signed an executive order overturning the limits President Bush put in place prohibiting taxpayer financing of new embryonic stem cell research that involves the destruction of human life.

Then, in April, the National Institutes of Health released the proposed guidelines that implement Obama’s decision.

They describe the conditions and informed consent procedures that would have been required during the derivation of human embryonic stem cells for research using these cells to be funded by the NIH.

The guidelines also contain a long list of informed consent procedures and make it so parents know and agree to how the human embryos will be killed and used in scientific experiments. They only apply to research involving federal funds and do not affect research involving state funds or private dollars.

The proposal gave the public one month to comment, although pro-life groups expect the guidelines to be approved and the Obama administration is expected to release the final set of rules in July.

Still, pro-life groups are urging public comment and say there are numerous problems with the guidelines that go beyond forcing taxpayers to fund the destruction of human life for dubious research.

The guidelines also divert funds away from promising adult stem cell research that is treating people now who have one of over 100 diseases or conditions.

They create a financial incentive for the creation of more human embryos to be destroyed to obtain their embryonic stem cells.

The guidelines also do not require any separation between an in-vitro fertilization doctor and an embryonic stem cell researcher. The guidelines say they “should” be separate, but only when practical. As a result, the Obama guidelines allow any IVF doctor to create more human embryos than are needed for fertility purposes in order to generate more so-called “leftover” embryos for embryonic stem cell research using taxpayer funds.

Meanwhile, pro-life groups like the National Right to Life Committee tell that the proposed guidelines open the door to other bioethics problems.

The Obama administration, through the NIH guidelines, is not allowing creation of human embryos for the specific purpose of destroying them for research, which is prohibited under a current federal law known as the Dickey amendment.

However, Obama is thought to be very likely to sign a bill sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette that would overturn that law and allow what pro-life groups call "fetal farming" — the specific use of human cloning to create human embryos destined to be destroyed in scientific research.

NRLC worries Congressional backers of the bill will claim they are merely codifying the NIH guidelines, which would not be the case.

ACTION: The NIH encourages public comments about the guidelines to be entered on-line at:

Comments may also be submitted in writing to NIH Stem Cell Guidelines, MSC 7997, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Maryland, 20892-7997, but they must be received by May 26.

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