|A Publication of the Republican National Coalition for Life||September/October 2001 - No. 41|
Into Cooperation With Killing Human Embryos
On August 9, 2001, President George W. Bush authorized the use of taxpayers' money for experiments on the remains of human beings at the embryonic stage of development, who were killed for their stem cells by privately funded researchers.
The Bush policy is substantially the same as the one the Clinton administration cooked up. The Clinton policy circumvented current federal law that prohibits the use of federal funds for research in which embryos are destroyed, discarded or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death, by allowing federally funded scientists to experiment on stem cells taken from embryos killed in privately funded laboratories. The Christian Legal Society is prepared to seek an injunction in federal court against the Bush plan on the basis that it violates federal law. http://www.christianlegalsociety.org
The Bush policy would strip the United States of America of its moral authority in the world by violating the Nuremberg Code of Medical Ethics, established after World War II as a result of the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals, which prohibits experiments that pose a risk of harm, injury or death to human subjects.
The Bush policy flies in the face of his own oft-stated position: "I oppose Federal funding for stem-cell research that involves destroying living human embryos." Clearly, the stem cells on which taxpayer-funded experiments will be performed, did involve the destruction of living human embryos. They were alive then they were killed, and their stem cells were removed from them. It's hard to imagine any greater involvement than that!
In his nationally televised speech, President Bush asked the question, . . . "are these embryos human life?" He didn't answer it, but later in the speech he revealed what appears to be a gap in his understanding of human development when he said that his policy allows us to explore the promise and potential of stem cell research without crossing a fundamental moral line by providing taxpayer funding that would sanction or encourage further destruction of human embryos that have at least the potential for life.
The potential for life? A human embryo IS a life a living human being with potential! If President Bush does not embrace the fundamental principle that human life is sacred from conception, and that it is immoral both to kill that life and to profit from the killing, and that it is unconscionable to force the taxpayers to reward the killers with hundreds of millions of dollars in government grants, whether he realizes it or not, he has crossed the line. His own words negate the claim on his part to being pro-life.
The President did not address the fact that privately funded researchers and laboratories are engaged in research on embryos. Pro-life Americans expected him to close the door on taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research, and to ask Congress for legislation that would prohibit privately funded research as well. We expected him to put all of our resources into ethical stem cell experiments using adult cells and cells from umbilical cord blood, placentas and human fat. We expected those things because he said he wanted to rebuild a culture of life.
Instead, he is pushing us down the slippery slope and over the edge into a free fall toward a world we don't want for our children and grandchildren, a world we will not recognize.
RNC/Life will work tirelessly with other truly pro-life leaders to prevent the implementation of a policy that will force our cooperation, through our taxes, with this great evil. We will work to end experiments on human embryos by making the practice illegal. And we will continue to pray for the enlightenment of those in public office so that they will recognize that we are endowed by our CREATOR with certain inalienable rights and that among these is the right to life. This is just the beginning of the greatest debate in history.
Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: President Bush has reaffirmed his support for a ban on human cloning and other policies that deserve support in their own right. However, the trade-off he has announced is morally unacceptable. The federal government, for the first time in history, will support research that relies on the destruction of some defenseless human beings for possible benefit to others. However such a decision is hedged about with qualifications, it allows our nation's research enterprise to cultivate disrespect for human life.
Phyllis Schlafly, President of Eagle Forum: President Bush made the wrong decision morally, scientifically, legally, and politically by approving federal funds for embryonic stem cell research.
Embryonic stem cell research in the name of the greatest public good is wrong. It is unworthy of this great nation. Human beings at the earliest stage of development deserve respect and protection by virtue of their humanity.
President Bush could have chosen only to support ethical stem cell research, which has proven more successful scientifically. Over 11,000 babies are born every day in the United States. Parents can now choose to preserve their child's umbilical cord blood, which is rich in stem cells. If every parent made this decision, every human being would then have a supply of stem cells available to treat future ailments or disease.
In 1995, Congress outlawed federal funding for research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to the risk of injury or death. The law is quite clear. Yet, President Bush embraced the Clintonian interpretation that, if private funds were used to kill the embryos, then federal funds can be used to conduct research on their remains. Congress should immediately expand the 1995 law to ensure that all embryos will be protected from facing a death sentence in the name of experimental research, regardless of who pays for it.
Ken Connor, President of Family Research Council: The impact of [Bush's] decision on the fate of hundreds of thousands of embryos and on progress toward medical treatments will not be clear for months or even decades. Its impact on the character of his presidency, however, is clear now: he has made a breach of faith in the service of an untenable compromise.
Embryo research advocates are already challenging the President's numbers. They say that there are far fewer stem cell lines in existence than his estimate of 60. They know that, once the principle is given away, we are only haggling over the price. If 30 more stem cell lines are created in the private sector by killing human embryos in the next six months, the federal government will not have been involved in their demise either. On what principle will the President refuse to authorize use of these fresher human cells?
At the end of the day, however, this issue has never been about the quantity or sequence of embryo destruction and experimentation. It has been about this principle: can a human being cease to have value for himself or herself and merely become a means to preserve life and health for others?
For 3,000 years, the first rule of medicine has been Do No Harm. By abandoning that rule, the President has helped to usher in a new era marked by the philosophy that the ends justify the means. This was the ethos of Dr. Mengele, who experimented on doomed twins at Auschwitz.
For seven months now we have called upon the President to honor his pledge, the commitments made by his party's platform, and his own campaign, to protect innocent human life. His change will forever be a blot upon his record in office. August 9th could have been the President's finest hour. Instead, the sinister lights of perverted science are burning a little brighter.
Dr. Jack Willke, President of Life Issues Institute: Life Issues Institute is deeply disappointed with President Bush's concession on the life and death issue of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. This so-called compromise condones what was deliberate killing of embryonic children to harvest their stem cells for unproven research.
Dr. Alan Keyes, Chairman of The Declaration Foundation: The President's actions included one crucially important good. He absolutely had to resist pressure to fund, and hence approve, the immediate destruction of embryonic human life, and he did resist this pressure for now. But the statement, and the decision to fund the exploitation of the tiny bodies of those already destroyed, are deep disappointments to the pro-life cause. If this decision, and especially its rationale, are embraced as a victory by the leaders of that cause, they will have put their own principles on the path to extinction.
It is a well-understood principle in our law that, if you have obtained a profit by violating a person's rights, you may not keep your ill-gotten gains. But the President violated this principle by approving the use of stem cells that have come from what he called, 'life and death decisions already made' as if, somehow, the injustice is lessened by the fact that 'the decisions already made' were made by somebody else. From now on, this government will encourage research that is only possible if human lives are, or have been, intentionally destroyed. This will create an environment of mounting pressure to go forward down this unprincipled path.
Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA): I am disappointed that the President has decided to use stem cells from killed human embryos. They have been unethically acquired, and should not be used for science. Although we use the voluntarily donated organs of accident victims, we do not use the organs of murder victims for science. [Emphasis added] Many Americans have already been helped by adult stem cells. No one has yet been helped by embryonic stem cells, and may never be. He should have made this clear.
Wendy Wright, Director of Communications for Concerned Women for America: The President's position contradicts the Nuremberg Code, ethical guidelines set down after World War II, which prohibits experimentation that knowingly causes injury or death to humans. We should be horrified at the prospect of participating in research on embryos who were deliberately killed for the same reason that we are horrified that the gold fillings were taken from the teeth of Holocaust victims. The President forgot that one dimension of respect for life is respect for the remains of the dead. The President has embraced the hair-splitting logic of the previous Administration, in pretending that it is wrong to conduct experiments on someone you killed yourself, but right to do so on someone who has been killed by another. The critical moral question is not who killed the victim, but rather shall we profit from that killing?
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) [An Advocate for Research on Human Embryos]: He said if Bush's decision means research on embryonic stem cells will go forward, even with limits, "I would back him in a minute. If he goes that far, we've got him", said McDermott, a psychiatrist. "The push of science will push open the door." (USA-Today, 8/10-01)
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ): The proposal to allow federal funding for experimentation on stem cells obtained through the destruction of living human embryos is a mistake. Allowing the use of stem cells obtained from human embryos to receive federal funding, however limited or defined, opens a new door that may prove difficult to close. As the author of the Responsible Stem Cell Research Act of 2001 (H.R. 2096), I remain confident that science will continue to show that stem cells obtained from non-embryonic sources, including umbilical cord blood, placentas and plentiful adult tissues, are the quickest, most promising and only ethical route to achieve significant medical advances.
Gary Bauer, President of Campaign for Working Families: Here is the central dilemma in what Bush has done. By supporting taxpayer subsidies for embryonic stem cell research from human embryos that have already been killed, he has planted the time bomb that will likely result in the pro-life side losing the debate. Let's assume the funding is provided, and six months from now a researcher announces: Yes, indeed embryonic stem cells do cure Parkinson's disease. At that point the demand to kill tens of thousands of human embryos from the utilitarian crowd will be overwhelming and the moral high ground will already have been surrendered.
Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA): I fully support the President's decision not to use federal funds for the killing of human embryos to acquire stem cells, but cannot, and will not, support a Trojan horse proposal that opens the door to federally funded research on human embryos. To that end, I am disappointed with the President's decision to initiate federally funded embryonic stem cell research. It is morally and ethically wrong, and I will continue to oppose it.
Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL): I am uncomfortable with the perception that embryos can be viewed as property as opposed to human life. . . . I am pro-stem cell research, just not the kind that takes a life such as umbilical cord and placental blood cells and adult stem cell sources. I am very committed to funding this type of research. In fact, I have supported recent legislation by Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey to add $30 million to adult stem cell research.
We all want to see cures and treatments for infants, children and adults who suffer from these various diseases. However, when we don't have to destroy life in the process, why should we?
Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus: The Knights of Columbus can only express its deepest disappointment over President Bush's decision. This decision to fund such research is all the more baffling in that ethical avenues to pursue this research avenues that all can agree upon are available with adult stem cells. Adult stem cell research has proved highly successful and is proving to be as valuable, and perhaps even more so, in advancing medical progress. Indeed, adult stem cells are already being used successfully in human clinical trials. In marked contrast, embryonic stem cells have never helped a single human patient.
Since these activities are privately funded, it is literally open season on tiny babies whose parents consider them not precious children to be protected and nurtured, but property to be used and disposed of at will.
The ethics and morality of using human embryos for medical experimentation does not depend on who pays for it. Every individual human being, from the moment of conception, should be respected and protected under the laws of the United States.
According to Ceci Connolly, writing for the Washington Post (8/13/01), White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card suggested that the president would be willing to consider outlawing private research on newly harvested cells. "I suspect if Congress were to pass a ban, he would sign it." So, what are we waiting for?
It is way past time that pro-life leaders once again raise high the standard of the right to life. We must pursue legislation that will totally ban the killing of human embryos for medical experiments. And, we must challenge the President to sign it. To do less is to abandon the cause to which we have been called and surrender to the culture of death.
Republican National Coalition for Life Box 618 Alton Illinois 62002|
618-462-5415 Fax: 618-462-8909 E-mail