Genocide of the Unborn

  Scientists in white lab-coats conducting experiments on human beings, and destroying thousands of lives in the process. Sounds like a scene from Dr. Frankenstein, but if the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has their way, that image will soon become a terrifying reality. The story began in 1993. Only two days after taking office, President Clinton ended the moratorium on fetal tissue research that was put in place by both the Reagan and Bush administrations. The new administration was apparently not concerned that funding this kind of research would encourage women to have abortions—whether in the name of science or in the hopes of helping a sick loved one. Congress saw the risks, however, and passed a ban on federal funding fetal of tissue research in 1995, over the president's objection. That didn't, of course, stop private research. By December 1998, privately-funded scientists were growing human stem cells in the laboratory. Stem cells are the so-called "master cells" that the body uses to form tissue and organs. They're available from a variety of sources, but the most convenient source is human embryos—in other words, unborn children. Meanwhile, NIH scientists wanted to get back into the game of stem-cell research. They tried to escape the ban by restricting the federal funding to research on cells and not for the destruction of embryos. But as Stephen Hall observes in the New York Times, "in order to obtain human embryonic stem cells... you must destroy a human embryo." And therein lies the ethical dilemma. The thinking had been that private abortions would provide an ample supply of cells for the researchers. But it hasn't worked out that way. Sometimes the abortion procedure renders them unusable, and sometimes, by the time scientists acquire the aborted babies, the cells are dead, and no longer useful to them. NIH scientists were also anxious to get their hands on the estimated 150,000 unclaimed or unwanted frozen embryos around the country, produced through in-vitro fertilization. If implanted in a mother's womb, these embryos would grow up to be men and women, like you and me. But in the laboratory, I shudder to think what they may become! So to gain access to a sufficient supply of cells, the NIH issued new guidelines last December. Basically they allow federal scientists to obtain private funds for abortions, and federal funds for stem cell research. But this is just a dodge—a way of getting around the congressional ban. As Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee observes, this "would result in federal sponsorship and funding of experiments in which living human embryos are dissected and killed." These new rules would bring America that much closer to the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust and the experiments of Dr. Joseph Mengele. Fortunately, NIH is still taking comments from the public prior to applying the new standards, and it's vital that we speak out. We can make a difference—saving unborn children from being harvested in the name of science, and preventing America from funding laboratories for Dr. Frankenstein with your tax dollars. [To contact NIH concerning the Draft National Institutes of Health Guidelines for Research Involving Human Pluripotent Stem Cells (December 1999): Phone: (301) 496-4000 Fax: (301) 402-0280 E-mail: The deadline for public comments is February 22, 2000.]


Chuck Colson



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