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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pols push embryo-destructive cloning research

Advocates for conscience rights in health care have noted that the meager conscience provision in the recently passed healthcare legislation not only does not prevent government discrimination against pro-life professionals; it also applies only to abortion. Physicians, medical researchers, nurses and healthcare institutions face all kinds of ethical challenges besides abortion. These ethical challenges include reproductive technology, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and the deliberate destruction of human embryos for research purposes.
These challenges will increase, if pro-abortion politicians have their way. I recently received this alert from a pro-life colleague on Capitol Hill:
Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO)  and Mike Castle (R-DE) have introduced the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act (H.R. 4808). Under the guise of making the current Obama Administration’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines permanent, the bill,  HR 4808,  actually goes much further than the current regulations and further than any embryo destructive research bill approved by the Congress so far by providing broad authorization for research that implicitly goes well beyond research on stem cells from so-called “leftover embryos” and would provide a basis for research on stem cells taken for cloned embryos and embryos created solely for the purpose of destruction.
Embryos Created by IVF (in-vitro fertilization):  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.  At this time the regulations are focused on research that involves embryos created for fertility purposes.  However, H.R. 4808 directs the 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” providing an open door for research on stem cells from other sources such as embryos created solely for research purposes.
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 as follows: “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.
Pro-life leaders on Capitol Hill encourage constituents to urge Members of Congress to support  the following two bills:
  • Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2009 (H.R. 1050), which would ban creating cloned embryos by somatic cell nuclear transfer.  The bill is a total ban on human cloning.
  • Patients First Act of 2009 (H.R. 877)—by Rep. Lipinski (D-IL) and Forbes (R-VA) 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.
Note also this speech Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) on  stem cell research.

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