Obama: End Funding for Snowflake Embryo Adoption Program

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 5, 2012   |   12:46PM   |   Washington, DC

President Barack Obama is seeking to end federal funding for a pro-life program installed during the administration of President George W. Bush that helped save unborn babies potentially slated for destruction in fertility clinics.

The “snowflake baby” program provided funding for adoption-awareness programs for the children who were formerly stored human embryos at fertility clinics who could have been destroyed for scientific research.

Congressman Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, was one of the strong proponents of the pro-life program, saying, “Assertions that leftover embryos are better off dead so that their stem cells can be derived is dehumanizing and cheapens human life. There is no such thing as leftover human life. Ask the snowflake children— cryogenically frozen embryos who were adopted—their lives are precious and priceless.”

The Obama administration proposes to defund the Embryo Adoption Awareness Campaign in its fiscal 2013 budget. As the Washington Times reports, “The Department of Health and Human Services “is not requesting funds for this program” because “the Embryo Adoption program will be discontinued in FY2013,” HHS officials said in a February funding report to Congress.”

Ron Stoddart, executive director of Nightlight Christian Adoptions, one of the top embryo adoption programs, told the newspaper he is disappointed with the decision, saying, “I think that daily we talk to people about … embryo donation and adoption, and we hear the response, ‘Really? I didn’t know that was even possible.'”

Mailee Smith, staff counsel at Americans United for Life, told the newspaper the decision  is more evidence of “the pro-abortion slant of this administration.”

“Why would the Obama administration cut $2 million for adoption awareness, but keep $1 million a day for Planned Parenthood?” she said.

But the Obama administration claims there is “little interest” in the program.

Under one of the grants the program gave out, Bethany Christian Services, the largest adoption agency in the United States, partnered with the NEDC to provide a national forum for emerging issues related to embryo adoption and donation.

Jeffrey Keenan, MD, medical director for the National Embryo Donation Center, said the grants will also help his organization create a national clearinghouse for literature, media and electronic data currently available on embryo adoption and donation.

“We are pleased with the exciting work previous grants have allowed us to accomplish in increasing awareness about this important option for infertile couples, and we look forward to maintaining our leadership in this field,” Keenan said.

President Bush stood with the families of several babies who were born after embryo adoption when he vetoed a Congressional bill forcing taxpayers to pay for destructive embryonic stem cell research.

Known as “snowflake children” — each child is unique, like a snowflake — these babies adopted as human embryos are now healthy children no different from their peers.

“These families highlight the essential fact that human embryos are human beings deserving the full love and protections granted any child,” said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.

“We hear so often in the debate over embryonic stem cells that the harvesting of stem cells from embryos does not destroy a human life, and yet these Snowflake children prove otherwise,” Perkins explained.

There are an estimated 400,000 frozen human embryos in fertility clinics across the country. A study in September 2004 by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers University indicates that 84 percent of clinics throw out “extra” embryos created during in in-vitro procedures.

The study showed that 76 percent of clinics offered the adoption option; 60 percent, disposal of the embryos before freezing; 54 percent, disposal after freezing; 60 percent, donation for scientific experimentation; and 19 percent, donation for training doctors.

Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) says the Nightlight Christian Adoptions program is a way to “take these little children and give them the potential to live the rest of their lives as the gifts from God that they are.”