National Institutes of Health to Fund Destructive Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Date: 08/23/2000

Guidelines clearly designed to evade federal ban on destructive embryo research

ALEXANDRIA, VA–The National Institutes of Health today issued rules for federal funding of research that requires the destruction of human embryos to obtain their stem cells.
Embryonic stem cell research, as now approved by the NIH, is unique among all other federally funded research because it requires the deliberate destruction of human beings in order to obtain the raw materials for research.

The NIH rules do not to clarify existing law, but circumvent it. The current congressional ban on federally-funded human embryo research is clear. It prohibits “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death”. Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of living human embryos. To say, as the NIH now does, that it cannot legally and morally fund the actual destruction of embryos to obtain their stem cells, but it will fund research that depends directly on such destruction, is disingenuous, as even the President’s own National Bioethics Advisory Committee has admitted.

In addition to being unethical and illegal, such destructive research is unnecessary. New and dramatic breakthroughs using adult stem cells show that they are equally or more promising compared with embryonic stem cells. Last week, for example, a study funded by the NIH and the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, showed that human bone marrow stem cells can create a “safe” and “virtually limitless” supply of nerve cells for treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries and other neurological diseases. Because adult stem cells come from the patient’s own body, their use eliminates the danger of foreign tissue rejection which is always inherent in the use of embryonic stem cells.

The stem cell guidelines can be found on the NIH’s web site at:

More information on advances in adult stem cell research can be found by visiting the Stem Cell Report.

Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics rejects the course of action taken by the National Institutes of Health, to support destructive human embryo stem cell research. Instead, our government should promote adult stem cell research which protects the inviolability of all individuals, rejects harming some for the potential benefit of others, and holds as much, if not more promise, for medical progress.

Experts on the science and ethics of stem cell research from Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics are available for comment. To speak with them, please contact Gene Tarne or Michelle Powers at 703-684-8352.