A discussion of the federal ban on human embryo research
March 14, 1997
Return Human Embryo forum introduction
in this forum:
Does this research place the role of God in question? Doesn't the benefits of embryo research outweight any harm to the embryos? Does embryos have "human rights"? Should their be exceptions to the Congressional ban on human embryo research? Why did Congress overule an NIH panel when they banned human embryo research? Additional Comments from Viewers.
March 10, 1997: Dr. Neal First of the University of Wisconsin and Dr. John Fletcher of the University of Virginia answer your questions about cloning.
February 24, 1997:
A background report on the cloning of sheep in Scotland.
February 24, 1997:
A technical discussion on the science of genetic engineering.
February 24, 1997:
A discussion on the ethics of genetic engineering and cloning mammals.
April 3, 1996:
Fred De Sam Lazaro reports on scientific advances in genetic research and the ethical questions they raise.
The Genetics and Public Issues Program at The National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR) discusses cloning.
Discussion of Ethics and Social Issues in Gene Research at the Human Genome Project.
Browse the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics home page.
The Online NewsHour editors ask:
Do you believe the total ban Congress placed on federally-funded human embryo research is appropriate? Would you make any revisions or exceptions to the ban?
Dr. Mark Hughes responds:
In the United States there is government licensure and oversight for even the most mundane medical process, but it is unfortunate that there are almost no guidelines and rules of conduct in the area of reproductive medicine and embryo search. These processes reamain in private clinics accross the country each with their own rules of practice. In the past, when our society has dealt with controversial areas of medicine and science (recombinant DNA reasearch, gene therapy, medical reasearch involving minors...) we have solicited the leadership and advice of our country's best physicians and scientists. Careful, methodical consideration was focussed on each aspect ofthe emerging technology. This was done under the auspices of the NIH which convened panels of experts that guided the scientific policy and progress for federally funded research and, by example and peer pressure, privately supported research as well. This process has served the country well.
Every few months there is a re-emergence of societal concern about this critically important and controversial subject. Currently, it centers around a sheep named Dolly. But, human embyo cloning was on the cover of virtually every major magazine in the early 1990's after a researcg group in Washington, D.C. published the process of "embryo splitting." Not too many months ago there was a scandal at the University of California. With each, we are collectively alarmed and frightened. It would be prudent to step back and allow our country's brightest scientists and biothicists to assist our legislative leaders in developing a prospective, rational public policy in this area.
Richard Doerflinger, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, responds:
The ban forbids use of federal funds to specially create human embryos for research purposes (by cloning or any other means), and it forbids experiments that subject embryos outside the womb to risk of harm and death that would not be allowed on embryos inside the womb. I find this standard to be eminently reasonable, and polls indicate that about three-quarters of Americans support such a ban on harmful experiments. In the current situation it might be advisable to amend the language slightly, to ensure that any creation and manipulation of human embryos by cloning (for any purpose, not just "research purposes") is denied funding.