By Nancy FRAZIER O'BRIEN
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.