Republicans Want Trump to Fire NIH Director Who Supports Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 22, 2017   |   12:16PM   |   Washington, DC

Republicans in Congress are urging President Donald Trump to oust the director of the National Institutes of Health because of his support for embryonic stem cell research that involves the destruction of human life.

40 Republicans in the House of Representatives wrote president Trump urging him to get rid of NIH director Francis Collins because of his support for the practice, which is opposed by pro-life organizations.

While pro-life advocates strongly support scientific research, they oppose embryonic stem cell research because the only way to obtain embryonic stem cells is to destroy unique human beings just days after conception. On the other hand, ethical adult stem cell research has produced cures or treatments for well over 100 diseases or medical conditions and involves no destruction of human life. Embryonic stem cell research has still yet to treat a single human being successfully.

Here is more from Politico:

Forty House Republicans are urging President Donald Trump to fire the director of the NIH over his support for embryonic and stem cell research that they say conflicts with Trump’s “pro-life direction.”

The Republican House members, in a letter led by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), question NIH Director Francis Collins’ support for embryonic cloning and for stem cell research that involves the destruction of human embryos.

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“While we deeply respect Dr. Collins’ Christian faith and commitment to public service, the stances that Dr. Collins has taken in the past regarding embryonic stem cell research and human cloning are not life-affirming and directly conflict with the pro-life direction of your new presidency,” the GOP lawmakers wrote. “It is because of this troubling paradox that we ask you to re-consider his leadership role at NIH.”

Collins has led the NIH since 2009, when he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

It has been unclear whether Trump will keep Collins, who came in at the beginning of the Obama administration, at the helm of the biomedical research institution. But Collins has wide support from both Republicans and Democrats.

In fact, several top Republicans — former House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander and key health care appropriators such as Sen. Roy Blunt and Rep. Tom Cole — asked Trump in December to keep Collins.

But the 40 Republicans argue Collins doesn’t share in their party’s position on embryonic research. They wrote that Collins’ stance is “particularly disturbing” considering that NIH’s funding for human embryonic stem cell research increased from $146 million in 2012 to $180 million in 2015.

The Obama administration forced Americans to pay for embryonic stem cell research involving the destruction of human life. National Institutes of Health chief Francis Collins approved taxpayer funding of dozens of lines of embryonic stem cells. The cells can only be obtained by destroying unborn children days after conception — at which point human embryos are unique human beings.

Obama issued an executive order overturning the limits President Bush put in place on any new embryonic stem cell research funding. Bush directed federal dollars mostly to adult stem cells that are already helping patients now.

The Family Research Council responded to the Obama administration’s move by saying that adult stem cells are already helping diabetes patients.

“Of course, when it comes to juvenile (type I) diabetes, adult stem cells have already shown success at treating diabetes patients,” the pro-life group noted.

It added, “Interestingly, none of the human embryonic stem cell lines approved thus far are from the original group of 21 lines that had been receiving NIH funding, only one (H1–one of the original five Thomson lines) has been submitted for approval, with only two other lines from Cellartis supposedly to be submitted for review.”

“This is surprising given that the vast majority of human embryonic stem cell research has been done with those previous lines, thus forcing most embryonic stem cell researchers to start over on experiments with new lines” the group continued.

“It also shows that this gold rush is just that, an attempt to grab more money built on embryo destruction, not built on science,” FRC concluded.