Less than a year after President Bush limited the federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) granted $150,000 to study the stem cells of aborted fetuses up to eight weeks old.
"This was a surprise and a disappointing one," said Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council (FRC). "Our concern all along has been that life begins at conception and should be protected from conception on. The curious irony here is that older, more mature fetuses have less protection than is accorded to days-old embryos."
Bush's August 9, 2001 embryonic stem-cell decision limited federal funds to research on cell lines already cultivated. This stance on embryonic research is considerably stricter than the still active Clinton-era guidelines for fetal research, which state that the decision to abort has to be made before discussion of donating the fetus to science, no money can be exchanged, and those aborting the child cannot determine the use of the fetus's cells.
"We shouldn't have a set of guidelines that treat embryos and fetuses differently, especially when they give more protections to embryos than fetuses," said John F. Kilner, director of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity.
Explaining the discrepancy between the two policies, a White House spokesman told the Chicago Tribune that Bush left the Clinton-era fetal guidelines in place because of a 1993 law prohibiting presidents from banning fetal tissue research.
Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, told Christianity Today that the Bush administration's hands are tied on fetal research. However, he said the administration is rightly focusing its attention on other life ethics battles. "We could ...1
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