Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stem Cell Bait and Switch

The National Right to Life Committee has sent this letter to members of Congress warning that legislation could be introduced in April which would allow the federal funding of research on human embryos who were created for research and human cloning for research.
Quite likely, the forthcoming legislation will contain some language that at first glance appears similar to that quoted above from 2007's S. 5, authorizing N.I.H. to fund research on IVF-created embryos “in excess of the clinical need”-- but the bill will be crafted in such a manner that this “surplus embryo” language is a license but not a limitation. We expect that the bill will also contain language that effectively will give the director of NIH broad authority to sponsor research that depends on the killing of human embryos created specifically for research, including human embryos created by cloning. Such an empowerment clause could, for example, take the form that is already found in Congresswoman DeGette’s H.R. 872, which would spell out certain “guidelines” for NIH funded embryonic stem cell research, but which also confers on the director of NIH the authority to “update the guidelines” in any manner he sees fit, whenever he “determines that such updates are scientifically warranted.” H.R. 872 mandates such unconstrained “updates” at least every three years but authorizes them to occur more frequently, at the discretion of the NIH director.....

We expect that the legislation now being prepared may combine a phony “ban” on human cloning, similar to the rejected H.R. 2560, with the language giving NIH expansive authority to conduct stem-cell research using human embryos of all kinds, both “leftover” and created for research, whether created by IVF, human cloning, or other laboratory methods.

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