Alternative Sources for Stem Cells Are Available

Wisconsin Right to Life today announced that it will be joining the National Right to Life Committee in preserving the federal ban on the use of federal tax dollars for experiments which harm or kill living human embryos and will work for a state prohibition of such experiments here in Wisconsin.

Since 1995, Congress has explicitly banned the use of federal tax dollars to support such activities but last week, the Clinton-Gore Administration took the first step towards subverting that law and instigating the funding of research the utilizes "stem cells" or "master cells" that are harvested from living human embryos, who are killed in the process. Administration lawyers have concocted a legal theory that would nullify the ban if the human embryos are killed by somebody other than the federally funded researcher, or perhaps even by the federally funded researcher while he has "punched out" for an hour.

University of Wisconsin researchers carrying out embryonic stem cell research are currently engaging in similar subterfuges and are also trying to conceal the fact that their research involves the killing of living human embryos.

According to Susan Armacost, Legislative Director for Wisconsin Right to Life, "Researchers at the National Institutes of Health and here at UW try to shift the focus by saying that a stem cell is no longer an embryo but the fact is that these stems cells were removed from living embryos, who were thereby killed. The dishonesty on the part of these researchers is unconscionable."

Concern about ethical issues in medical research has been prominent at key points in the 20th century. The most appalling evidence of a lack of respect for human persons is evidenced by the ghastly experiments performed by Nazi doctors during World War II. And in the infamous Tuskegee experiments, the U.S. Public Health Service conducted unethical research on poor, rural African American men who had syphilis. The men were left to die because the study was designed to gather data, not to aid in their recovery.

These ghastly incidences resulted in federal legislation protecting human research subjects. That legislation prohibits human subject research without the consent of the subjects and the research must have the goal of benefiting the subjects.

Armacost continued, "There are alternative sources for stem cells that do not require the killing of human embryos, and it is these ethical alternatives that should be fostered. Instead, NIH and UW researchers have abandoned all semblance of ethical behavior and are now engaging in what only can be called grave human rights atrocities. It is shocking that these researchers have chosen to repeat some of history's darkest moments. It is time for Congress and our state legislature to reign in their onerous activities."

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