Ban on Federal Funds for Embryo Research Faces New Challenge

WASHINGTON -- December 1998 -- Inspired by a scientific breakthrough, patients' advocates are mobilizing to lift Congress' 3-year-old ban on federal funding for embryo research. Their hope is to receive funding by the federal government and the National Institutes of Health funds.

The opening salvo comes Wednesday, when a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee holds hearings on recent studies in which privately funded researchers grew human "stem" cells for the first time one team using human embryos.

Arrayed against the funding is a group of lawmakers driven by their pro-life belief that an embryo outside the womb is as precious as one inside the womb, and shouldn't be created or destroyed for the purposes of research, however worthy the outcome.

"I feel just as strongly as I ever did that an embryo is still a life," said Rep. Jay Dickey, R-Ark., who sponsored the embryo research ban and predicts it will remain in place. "It's not a spare life, one that you can just throw away. It's still killing. And the federal government shouldn't be a part of it. I will fight any attempts to reverse it."

Pro-life advocates continue to support life-saving scientific research but do not support the killing of unborn humans to do so.

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