By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, DC, March 16, 2010 ( – A bill has been introduced to the House of Representatives that would set in stone guidelines developed for the National Institute of Health's embryo-destructive stem cell research. Pro-life sources on Capitol Hill warn, however, that the bill's wording goes farther than the NIH guidelines, providing broad authorization for research on stem cells taken from cloned embryos, and embryos conceived solely to be destroyed in research.

The “Stem Cell Research Advancement Act,” HR 4808, was introduced by Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Mike Castle (R-DE) on March 9, the anniversary of President Obama's signing of an executive order to unleash funds for the research.

While guidelines proposed by the NIH ostensibly restricted research to only “leftover” embryos created for in-vitro fertilization, the legislation calls for the Secretary to “conduct and support research that utilizes human stem cells, including human embryonic stem cells” without any limitation regarding the purpose behind the creation of the embryo. 

Another section of HR 4808 directs the Secretary to update stem cell guidelines “as scientifically warranted” – leaving open the possibility that future embryonic stem-cell projects could be carried out against embryos created solely to be killed in research.

In addition, while the bill appears to bar use of the funds “for the conduct or support of human cloning,” the language actually allows for the creation of such embryos, as long as they are not permitted to survive. This is because the bill defines “human cloning” as “the implantation” of a cloned embryo – rather than the creation of one – in Sec. 498F (c).

Last Wednesday, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) commemorated the anniversary of Obama's executive order by denouncing the needless destruction of innocent human life.

“Our research and decisions must be life-affirming,” said Fleming, who pointed out that research into adult stem cells – which do not take a human life – has already yielded scores of remedies for previously untreatable conditions. 

Meanwhile, embryo-destructive research, which Fleming called “out of date,” has produced no reliable treatments to date.

See related coverage:

Calif. Quietly Shifts Fruitless Embryo Research Funds to Adult Stem Cells

Pentagon Invests $250 Million in Adult Stem Cell Research

Obama Unleashes Taxpayer Funds for Embryo-Destructive Research


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