Bill Expanding Obama’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Order Pushes Human Cloning

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 16, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bill Expanding Obama’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Order Pushes Human Cloning

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 16
, 2010

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — An expanded look at the new bill filed by two members of Congress to expand President Barack Obama’s decision to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research finds problems and concerns for pro-life advocates.

Reps. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat and Michael Castle, a Delaware Republican, introduced the new bill earlier this month.

The measure is designed to codify Obama’s executive order — preventing a future pro-life president from overturning it.

But the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act (H.R. 4808) goes much further.

Under the guise of making the current Obama Administration’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines permanent, the bill provides broad authorization for research that implicitly goes well beyond research on stem cells from so-called “leftover embryos."

It would, according to a pro-life source that examined the measure, provide a basis for research on stem cells taken for cloned embryos and embryos created solely for the purpose of destruction.

"These guidelines are opposed by pro-life leaders because they incentivize embryo destruction by offering federal funds for research on stem cells derived by destroying a human embryo," the pro-life source said.

Currently, regulations are focused on research that involves embryos created for fertility purposes, but H.R. 4808 directs the HHS Secretary to “conduct and support research that utilizes human stem cells, including human embryonic stem cells” without limiting the scope to only cells taken from so-called “leftover” embryos.

A later section also directs the Secretary to update stem cell guidelines “as scientifically warranted" — thereby, according to the source, "providing an open door for research on stem cells from other sources such as embryos created solely for research purposes."

The legislation also presents concerns about human cloning.

While the bill states “Prohibition- The Secretary shall not use any funds for the conduct or support of human cloning," the bill redefines the actual definition of the cloning process:

“The term `human cloning’ means the implantation of the product of transferring the nuclear material of a human somatic cell into an egg cell from which the nuclear material has been removed or rendered inert into a uterus or the functional equivalent of a uterus."

Cloning actually takes place at the moment the cloned embryo is created using a process known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).
"This implantation definition allows funding for research on human cloned embryos as long as the clone is destroyed and not allowed to survive, thus rewarding cloning (SCNT) of human embryos with the promise of taxpayer dollars for research on the stem cell lines they create," the pro-life source told LifeNews.com.

Two pro-life bills on bioethics issues have been introduced, though their prospects are dim due to pro-embryonic stem cell research lawmakers controlling Congress.

Reps. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Zach Wamp (R-TN) has introduced the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2009 (H.R. 1050) that would ban creating cloned embryos by somatic cell nuclear transfer. The Stupak/Wamp bill is a total ban on human cloning.

And Rep. Lipinski (D-IL) and Forbes (R-VA) have sponsored the Patients First Act of 2009 (H.R. 877) that prioritizes stem cell research toward treating and curing patients, by promoting research and human clinical trials using adult stem cells that show the most potential of providing clinical benefit and are ethically obtained.

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