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Embryo Research Ban


Nancy Frazier OBrien

Catholic New York - New York, NY

  Despite President Clinton's surprise announcement denying federal funds for the creation of human embryos for research purposes, a coalition representing pro-life, pro-family, medical and legal groups said Dec. 5 that all human embryo research should be banned.

"The manipulation and destruction of one set of human beings. even if done in the name of curing serious disease, is not morally neutral, it is morally repugnant," said a statement signed by more than 70 scientists, scholars, attorneys and leaders of pro-life or other groups.

"This injustice and the use of public money taken from Americans who are disgusted by such human experimentation cry out for a firm and clear repudiation by public officials," said the statement, released Dec. 5 at a press conference in Washington, D.C., convened by the American Life League.

In a separate statement, the American Life League called Clinton's Dec. 2 announcement on embryo research "deceptive" and said the experimentation he banned is "only a small proportion of destructive research using human embryos."

The production of human embryos in labs solely for experimentation and the production of surplus human beings for the in vitro fertilization process would not be affected, the American Life League said.

"I do not believe that federal funds should be used to support the creation of human embryos for research purposes, and I have directed that NIH not allocate any resources for such research," Clinton said Dec. 2.

Earlier, an official of the U.S. bishops' conference was among those urging Dr. Harold Varmus, director of the National Institutes of Health, to reject proposals by the NIH Human Embryo Research Panel for funding embryo research.

Msgr. Robert N. Lynch, general secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and U.S. Catholic Conference, said the bishops' conference objects to all the experiments recommended for approval last September.

Just hours before Clinton's announcement, the advisory committee to the NIH director voted unanimously to endorse the panel's proposals.

Under those proposals, research eligible for federal funds would include studies aimed at improving successful pregnancies, understanding the process of fertilization better and aiding in the diagnosis of genetic problems in all embryo before it is implanted in the womb.

Research deemed unacceptable and "not to be federally funded for the foreseeable future" would include cloning genetic diagnosis for sex selection, cross-species, fertilization, development of human/non-human organisms and putting human embryos in animals for gestation.

In its statement the coalition urged Congress to "enact and enforce laws and policies which forbid direct support" for human embryo research, and to make any institution or individual who conducts unethical human embryo research," ineligible to receive any public money.

New Yorkers who singed the statement included William A Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, and Father Frank A. Pavone, director of Priests for Life.




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