NIH Reviewing Comments on Obama Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 2, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

NIH Reviewing Comments on Obama Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 2
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The National Institutes of Health is reviewing tens of thousands of public comments submitted about its plan to implement President Barack Obama’s decision to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research. The public had just over one month to submit comments for or against its plan.

Obama decided to overturn the protections President Bush put in place providing hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to adult stem cell research but not making citizens pay for the destruction of human life.

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

NIH director Raynard Kington has confirmed the agency received more than 20,000 comments four days before the deadline. The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, which ran a campaign opposing the NIH guidelines, directed 9,436 comments to NIH from its web site opposing them.

NIH confirmed that more than 48,000 were received by the deadline.

Dr. Lawrence Tabak, acting NIH deputy director, said the agency would "develop the guidelines as expeditiously as possible" but it is required to meet a July 7 deadline President Obama put in place.

The agency began accepting comments after Obama issued his executive order on March 8, but the official comment period was shorter and came under criticism.

After President Bush’s executive order, NIH put a 60-day comment period in place and then extended the period an additional 28 days. However, NIH closed off public comments on Obama’s order on Tuesday, May 26, which upset a collection of pro-life groups that submitted reaction on the last day.

“A mere 34-day comment period does not afford interested parties an adequate opportunity to comprehensively review and comment on the Guidelines-especially given the scientific complexity and ethical ramifications of the Guidelines,” the groups wrote.

“[T]he inadequate comment period precludes the NIH from having sufficient information to engage in informed rulemaking,” the pro-life groups added.

Although the public comment period has ended, the nation’s Catholic bishops are continuing their campaign to educate the public about what Obama has done.

Deirdre A. McQuade, the pro-life spokeswoman for the bishops, told the Catholic News Service that pro-life advocates also need to contact their members of Congress and urge them to support ethical research.

She and other pro-life leaders are worried Congress will adopt a bill that would overturn the Dickey-Wicker amendment, a law that prevents the purposeful creation and destruction of human life for research. The NIH guidelines would only fund the destruction of so-called "leftover" human embryos for dubious scientific study.

The NIH guidelines 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 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. They 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.

Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.