Final NIH Comments on Embryonic Stem Cell Research From Pro-Life Attorneys

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 27, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Final NIH Comments on Embryonic Stem Cell Research From Pro-Life Attorneys

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 27
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — An organization of pro-life attorneys submitted some of the final comments to the National Institutes of Health on the new rules it plans to adopt to implement President Barack Obama’s decision to overturn the protections against forcing taxpayers to find embryonic stem cell research.

The deadline for submitting comments about the proposed guidelines was Tuesday and members of Advocates International filed extensive legal and scientific comments.

The pro-life attorneys group urged NIH officials not to issue as a "final rule" its proposed draft guidelines.

The group says the NIH’s proposed expansion of human embryonic stem cell lines eligible for taxpayer funding beyond the currently eligible hESC lines are neither ethically "responsible, scientifically worthy, nor permitted by law."

Advocates International told that the guidelines would be "revoking and reversing the ethical administration policy established in 2001 and begin for the first time using federal tax dollars to encourage researchers to destroy living human embryos for stem cell research in violation of existing federal law."

Sam Casey, a top pro-life attorney, explained more about the problems.

"President Obama’s Executive Order is legally limited and only authorizes NIH action ‘to the extent permitted by law,’" he said.

As Casey told NIH, existing law currently bans the expenditure of any federal funds for "the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for research on fetuses in utero" under two sections of federal law.

Casey further noted that the proposed guidelines are "unnecessary and inappropriate due to several advances in scientific research and medical understanding."

Casey said that the NIH’s Proposed Guidelines are also "ethically offensive to everyone who understands the undisputed scientific biological fact, as recently affirmed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeal, that ‘during its embryonic age,’ a human embryo is ‘a whole, separate, unique, living human being, an individual living member of the species of Homo sapiens.’"

For all who "understand this biological fact and also believe that every human being has intrinsic moral value — the NIH’s proposed Guidelines are clearly unethical," Casey added.

"Encouraging the destruction one human life through human experimentation, even in order to possibly help other human beings, is always morally wrong and should not be countenanced by any government," he said.

Casey also told the guidelines have practical problems.

"The persons donating the embryos or benefiting from their donation … are not even required to be ‘fully informed’ [about consent] under the proposed guidelines," he said.

Advocates International agrees that the proposed NIH Guidelines are not only ethical irresponsible, they are fiscally irresponsible from the taxpayers’ point of view because adult stem cell research outpaces embryonic stem cell research.

"Scientists have been conducting research with both adult and embryonic stem cells for years. Only research with adult stem cells has yielded any successes in the treatment of human disease," Casey explained.

On the other hand, research with embryonic stem cells has been plagued with problems.

Specifically, tests — which to date has been limited to animals due to the inherent risks — invariably have ended in failure due to immune rejection and rapid replication of cells leading to cancerous tumors.

Related web sites:
Advocates International –

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