NIH Releases Obama’s Rules for Tax-Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 6, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

NIH Releases Obama’s Rules for Tax-Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 6
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The National Institutes of Health today released the guidelines to implement President Barack Obama’s decision to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research. That’s the science that involves the purposeful destruction of human life and has never helped any patients with any diseases or conditions.

Though the NIH received more than 48,000 public comments on the proposed guidelines, with many coming from pro-life advocates opposed to having their money used to destroy life for failed experiments, NIH implemented Obama’s directive.

The guidelines are scheduled to go into effect tomorrow.

They are largely unchanged from the April draft guidelines and say fertility clinics need only provide couples with the options available at that clinic, which likely do not include the possibility of adopting the human embryo to a couple wanting to allow the baby to grow to birth.

The guidelines also suggest that IVF doctors and human embryonic stem cell research scientists “should be” different people, but there is no requirement. That could result in the purposeful creation and destruction of human life rather than merely using "leftover" human embryos.

While the Obama-NIH guidelines prohibit NIH funds from funding cloning research they also re-state that the NIH can fund embryo-destructive research in spite of the Dickey-Wicker federal provision against funding research in which a human embryo is harmed.

The NIH guidelines also say the NIH plans to allow federal funding on embryonic stem cell lines created prior to July 7, 2009 even though some of those lines were created under circumstances that would not satisfy the new NIH requirements.

Those guidelines will be waived “if scientists can prove they met the spirit of the new ethics standards," according to an AP report. As a result, all lines are expected to receive taxpayer funding even if they were created under more dubious ethical circumstances.

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,” a collection of pro-life groups said.

Now that the guidelines have been released, pro-life groups including the National Right to Life Committee and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops 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 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.

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