President Barack Obama Tells NIH to Adopt Embryonic Stem Cell Research Rules

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 31, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Barack Obama Tells NIH to Adopt Embryonic Stem Cell Research Rules

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 31
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — President Barack Obama on Thursday directed the National Institutes of Health to officially adopt its proposed rules to implement his decision to force taxpayers to pay for embryonic stem cell research. Obama reversed protections that prevented the funding of new research destroying human life.

President Bush has kept protections in place because new embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of unborn children to obtain their stem cells.

The research has yet to help a single patient, unlike adult stem cell research — which has helped patients with more than 100 diseases and medical conditions and which Bush supported with hundreds of millions in federal funding.

Obama’s decision to force funding required the NIH to adopt rules to implement it.

In a statement, he instructed the NIH to officially adopt the rules: "I hereby direct the heads of executive departments and agencies that support and conduct stem cell research to adopt these guidelines, to the fullest extent practicable in light of legal authorities and obligations."

The NIH rules received significant pro-life criticism when the agency released them earlier this month and because the Obama administration ignored the majority of public comments opposing embryonic stem cell research.

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 NIH rules 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.

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