Donald Trump Must Reverse Obama’s Order Forcing Taxpayers to Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jan 2, 2017   |   2:21PM   |   Washington, DC

President-elect Donald Trump reassured pro-lifers multiple times that he will sign a bill to defund the nation’s largest abortion chain, Planned Parenthood.

It is an important issue for pro-lifers, and one that has received a lot of attention. Planned Parenthood performs about 320,000 abortions a year, and receives about half a billion in tax dollars annually. Americans became even more disgusted by its practices in the past two years after undercover videos revealed its callous and potentially illegal treatment of aborted babies’ body parts.

Trump’s promises are encouraging, but there are other life-destroying issues that deserve his attention, too. Embryonic stem cell research is one of them.

Unlike research using stem cells from adults, research with embryonic stem cells involves destroying a human life. Embryos are unique, individual human beings in one of the earliest stages of development. For the past eight years, Americans’ tax dollars have been used to help fund research that involves the destruction of human embryos.

Just months after President Barack Obama took over the White House, Obama overturned the protections President George W. Bush put into place that prevented taxpayer funding of new embryonic stem cell research.

Bush put millions of dollars into adult stem cell research, which helped to develop treatments for more than 100 diseases and medical conditions. Bush also pumped money into finding alternatives to embryonic stem cell research that do not involve destroying human embryos, but Obama overturned that executive order as well.

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So far, Trump has not said much about embryonic stem cell research, but The San Diego Union-Tribune pointed to one of Trump’s cabinet picks as a sign that taxpayer funding for the practice may go away again.

Here’s more from the newspaper:

Now, President-elect Donald Trump may curtail funding for embryonic stem cell research. Trump himself has said he opposes abortion, a related issue. Tom Price, his nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, has opposed embryonic stem cell research on moral grounds because embryos are killed during production of the cell lines.

The embryonic stem cells are collected from extra embryos produced from in vitro fertilization that would otherwise be discarded.(Editor’s note: This is not 100-percent accurate. Embryo adoption is a relatively new, life-affirming option for embryos left over from in vitro fertilization. This option gives the human embryo a chance to grow and be born.)

… Neither Trump nor Price has publicly stated whether federal funding for embryonic stem cell research will be curtailed. That research is funded by the NIH, which falls under the HHS department.

Price has said work with other kinds of stem cells has proven more promising, a view for which there is some evidence.

Although embryonic stem cell-based therapies are in clinical trials, including one from San Diego’s ViaCyte, no such treatments have actually been approved.

The Atlantic reports more about Price’s record:

As a congressman, Price repeatedly voted against expanding embryonic stem-cell research, and when Obama lifted the ban in 2009, Price released a statement saying, “Human embryos are the most vulnerable forms of life, yet the Obama administration is creating taxpayer-funded incentives for their destruction.”

Back in 2011, Trump told the Des Moines Register that while he is pro-life on abortion, he was undecided about embryonic stem cell research. He said wanted to study the issue more before forming an opinion. He also appeared to recognize the controversial nature of embryonic stem cell research by assuring the newspaper he has not funded it in his business enterprises.

Hopefully, Trump has done his research since then. Adult stem cell research is proving to be life-saving, while research with embryonic stem cells has been the exact opposite. As the Union-Tribune noted, no medical treatments developed with embryonic stem cells have been approved, but stem cell treatments using adult cells are saving lives.

If the Trump administration is committed to protecting life at all stages, it should reverse Obama’s actions and ban taxpayer funding for embryonic stem cell research. Trump would do well to direct the money instead to adult stem cell research, which has proven to be successful and, most importantly, does not involve the destruction of human life.