Throughout the history of the cloning debate, no Administration of either party funded a research project that relies on destroying live human embryos - until President Bush in 2001 authorized limited funding for such. The Clinton Administration's plans to do so were delayed by public opposition, then halted for good reason by the Bush Administration. The federal government has now decided to partially implement the National Institutes of Health's guidelines for embryonic stem cell research. This has opened the door to broader assaults on innocent human life in the name of research. Congress and this Administration in a limited way endorse the principle that alleged research benefits outweigh the inviolable dignity of innocent human life. Attempts to prevent further abuses will likely be futile, as researchers demand more and more freedom to set aside restrictions that prevent them from realizing their dreams of conquering disease. We applauded the Administration's initial announcement that it supported a complete ban on human cloning.
Most Christians have grave concerns on this critically important issue of embryonic stem cell research. In our view, conducting research that relies on deliberate destruction of human embryos for their stem cells is illegal, immoral and unnecessary.
It is illegal because it violates an appropriations rider (the Dickey amendment) passed every year since 1995 by Congress. That provision forbids funding "research in which" human embryos (whether initially created for research purposes or not) are harmed or destroyed outside the womb.(1) National Institutes of Health guidelines approved by the Clinton Administration nonetheless give researchers detailed instructions on how to obtain human embryos for destructive cell harvesting, if they wish to qualify for federal grants in "human pluripotent stem cell research."(2) Clearly, obtaining and destroying embryos is an integral part of this project, even if the specific act of destroying embryos does not directly receive federal funds. By implementing these guidelines, the federal government would encourage researchers to conduct destructive embryo experiments that are punishable as felonies in some states.(3)
This proposal is immoral because it violates a central tenet of all civilized codes on human experimentation beginning with the Nuremberg Code: It approves doing deadly harm to a member of the human species solely for the sake of potential benefit to others. The embryos to be destroyed by researchers in this campaign are at the same stage of development as embryos in the womb who have been protected as human subjects in federally funded research since 1975.(4) President Clinton's National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) and its 1994 predecessor, the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel, conceded that the early human embryo is a form of developing human life that deserves our respect(5). Treating human life as mere research material...