Excess Embryos Frozen After Fertility Treatments Need Not Be Discarded.


Dear Concerned Citizen,

When human embryonic stem cells were first isolated in 1998, scientists immediately began clamoring for federal funding to further stem cell research. President Bill Clinton wanted to comply, but couldn’t. Embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) requires the destruction of embryos and a federal law known as the “Dickey Amendment” prohibits any federal funding of embryo-destroying research. The funding issue was settled by President Bush in August 2001. Consistent with the Dickey Amendment and in furtherance of his belief that it is wrong to destroy nascent human life in research, President George W. Bush restricted federal funding of ESCR to cell lines already in existence as of August 9, 2001.

Bush’s decision and the Dickey Amendment are also consistent with long-standing federal policy prohibiting the use of federal funds to pay for abortion. Such policies promote tolerance for diverse opinions in that they recognize that activities which are legal under federal law, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research, are in the minds of tens of millions of citizens terribly immoral, indeed murderous. Forcing these dissenters to pay their hard-earned tax dollars for activities they detest would be to violate society’s duty to respect diverse opinions of its citizens. Indeed, even the socially liberal commentator Andrew Sullivan, has written with regard to federal funding of ESCR, “No American taxpayer should be required to fund from her own dollars what she regards as a moral outrage.”

But now, this policy of tolerance and respect toward opponents of ESCR is threatened. Despite tens of millions spent by the federal government funding research with qualified ES cell lines under the Bush policy—ESCR proponents want more. They have introduced legislation to overturn the Bush approach outright and force the federal government to pay for the destruction of human embryos. Toward this end, the United States House of Representatives has just approved a bill that requires full federal funding for ESCR. The United States Senate is expected to follow suit.

But President Bush has vowed to veto the legislation and he has the numbers in the House of Representatives to make the veto stick. Thus, the Bush ESCR federal funding policy will almost surely remain unchanged for the next three and one-half years.

While the fight over ESCR federal funding has made headlines, in actuality, it is actually a diversion that threatens to distract attention and energy away from the more important political battle that must be now be waged with energy and unwavering commitment. This battle is the crucial struggle to outlaw all human cloning.

Only four years ago, biotechnology advocates assured us that all they wanted was leftover IVF embryos that were going to be destroyed anyway for use in ESCR. But this assurance is already obsolete. Today, biotechnologists believe that human cloning, not ESCR with IVF embryos, offers access to the most efficient method of obtaining embryonic stem cells for use in research. Indeed, South Korean researchers have now learned how to reliably create human cloned embryos and plan to use this technology—sometimes called therapeutic cloning—to establish a cloned embryonic stem cell bank for the use of researchers all over the world. Hwang to Open Stem Cell Bank

In considering this disturbing development, it is important to note that the same cloning technique (which was used in creating Dolly the sheep) could also be used for reproductive cloning. Indeed, Dr. Woo Suk Hwang, the South Korean researcher who created the first human clones, admitted in an interview last year that “this technique [therapeutic cloning] cannot be separated from reproductive people cloning.” Korean stem cell research labeled recipe for cloning

Therapeutic cloning also takes us down the immoral road that leads to cloned fetal farming. Once researchers learn as much as they can with early cloned embryos, they will want to research on cloned fetuses, perhaps for the purpose of organ harvesting as has already been done in animal experiments.

Indeed, the legal ground is already being prepared to permit such macabre experiments. New Jersey has legalized human cloning, implantation, and gestation through the ninth month—only requiring the killing of the cloned baby just prior to birth. Welcome to the Brave New Jersey. Other states have had similar legislation introduced.

Meanwhile, biotechnologists want to use cloning technology to learn how to create designer babies. One scientist has vowed to create a mouse with a human brain. There is even a social movement known as “transhumanism,” which seeks to use cloning and other advanced technologies to redesign the human race into a “post human species.” World Transhumanist Association

The controversy over President Bush’s embryonic stem cell funding policy makes for good debates on television. But don’t let your attention be diverted. The real fight we face is over human cloning—the gateway technology to the Brave New World.