Embryonic_Stem_Cell_Research_Summary_04092007 by uda13689


TO:            Interested Parties

FROM:          American Center for Law and Justice

RE:            Executive Summary of Preserving the Dignity of Human Life Through
               Limits on Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

DATE:          April 9, 2007


       Congress is once again considering the issue of whether federal taxpayer dollars should

be used to fund embryonic stem cell research. One Senate bill (S.5) would eliminate some

existing restrictions by allowing federal funding to be used to support research that involves the

destruction of living human embryos. Another bill (S.30 – the HOPE Act) would shift the focus

of federal funding to alternative methods of stem cell research that do not entail the destruction

of human embryos. The debate over these bills—and the related issue of human cloning—will

focus on two main issues: the state of medical research involving stem cells (embryonic and

otherwise) and the ethical ramifications of experimenting on human embryos. Congress should

enact the HOPE Act and reject S.5 in order to preserve the dignity of human life.

I.     How the Senate Bills Would Change Existing Law on Federal Funding of
       Embryonic Stem Cell Research.

       Both S.5 and the HOPE Act would change the existing limitations on federal stem cell

research funding. In an August 9, 2001 address to the nation, President Bush voiced his ethical

concerns over destroying embryos for the sake of research:

American Center for Law and Justice                                     CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

        As a result of private research, more than 60 genetically diverse stem cell lines
        already exist. . . created from embryos that have already been destroyed, [with]
        the ability to regenerate themselves indefinitely, creating ongoing opportunities
        for research. I have concluded that we should allow Federal funds to be used for
        research on these existing stem cell lines, where the life and death decision has
        already been made. . . . This allows us to explore the promise and potential of
        stem cell research without crossing a fundamental moral line by providing
        taxpayer funding that would sanction or encourage further destruction of human
        embryos that have at least the potential for life.1

        The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released guidelines concerning federal funding

for embryonic stem cell research in conformity with the President’s address:

    •   The stem cells must have been derived from an embryo that was created for reproductive
    •   The embryo was no longer needed for these purposes;
    •   Informed consent must have been obtained for the donation of the embryo; and
    •   No financial inducements were provided for donation of the embryo.2

The current policy prohibits the use of federal funding for research on human embryonic stem

cell lines created after August 9, 2001.3 This policy is quite similar to Title X of the Public

Health Service Act which provides that “[n]one of the funds appropriated under [Title X] shall

be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”4 Like President Bush’s

policy on embryonic stem cell research, Title X ensures that federal taxpayer dollars are not used

for the purpose of destroying human life.

        Two Senate bills (S.5 and S.30) would modify the current policy on federal funding for

embryonic stem cell research.5 S.5, introduced by Senator Reid, provides that “the Secretary

  President’s Address to the Nation on Stem Cell Research from Crawford, Texas, 37 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc.
1149 (Aug. 9, 2001) (emphasis added).
  HIH Guidelines, Office of the Director, NIH Not-OD-02-005, Notice of Criteria for Federal Funding of Research
on Existing Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Establishment of NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry (Nov. 7,
  NIH’s Role in Federal Policy, Stem Cell Information, 2006, available at http://stemcells.nih.gov/policy/
  Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, 42 U.S.C. § 300 et seq., Pub. L. No. 91-572.
  Another important Senate bill related to the issue of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research is S.1036,
sponsored by Senators Brownback and Landrieu. This bill, entitled the Human Cloning Prohibition Act, would
prohibit human cloning in all forms including “therapeutic cloning” or “somatic cell nuclear transfer” by which the

American Center for Law and Justice                                       CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

shall conduct and support research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells in accordance with

this section (regardless of the date on which the stem cells were derived from a human

embryo).”6 This provision would override the President’s current stem-cell policy which

prohibits federally supported research on stem-cell lines taken from embryos after 2001.

         S.5 sets forth “ethical” requirements for federally funded research that are similar to some

existing restrictions: the embryos must be donated from fertility clinics, created for purposes of

fertility treatment, and be in excess of the number of embryos needed by the parents for fertility

purposes.7 S.5 also prohibits the donor of the embryo from receiving money for making the

donation.8 So long as the previously mentioned conditions are met (i.e., the embryo is leftover

from a fertility clinic), S.5 would allow federal funding to be used to support experimentation

that injures, destroys, or discards living human embryos. Thus, S.5 would create the kind of

incentive to produce additional “leftover” embryos that President Bush’s policy seeks to avoid.9

         An opposing bill is S.30, the “Hope Offered through Principled and Ethical Stem Cell

Research Act” (HOPE Act), introduced by Senators Coleman and Isakson. The HOPE Act

differs from S.5 in two important ways. First, the HOPE Act would provide federal funding for

alternative avenues of stem cell research such as research on stem cells taken from adults,

umbilical cord blood, and amniotic fluid. Second, the HOPE Act would ensure that federal funds

are not used to destroy or injure living human embryos. The HOPE Act states that the Secretary

should support stem cell research

nucleus of an egg is removed and replaced by the nucleus of another kind of cell. It is critically important to
establish and enforce a clear rule prohibiting all forms of human cloning.
  S.5 (emphasis added).
  In September 2006, President Bush used his veto power for the first time to veto a bill similar to S.5 that would
have provided federal funding for embryo-destroying stem cell research. See, e.g., Bush Vetoes Embryonic Stem-
Cell Bill, Sept. 25, 2006, available at http://www.cnn.com/2006/ POLITICS/07/19/stemcells.veto/index.html.

American Center for Law and Justice                              CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

           provided that the isolation, derivation, production, or testing of [stem] cells will
           not involve (1) the creation of a human embryo . . . for research purposes, or (2)
           the destruction or discarding of, or risk of injury to, a human embryo or embryos
           other than those that are naturally dead.10

S.30 is similar to Title X’s restriction on federally subsidized abortion—S.30 does not in any

way ban embryonic stem cell research but merely ensures that tax dollars are used to pursue

other avenues of research. The HOPE Act would also begin the process for the establishment of

a National Amniotic and Placental Stem Cell Bank.11

II.        Stem Cell Research that Does Not Entail the Destruction of Human Embryos Has
           Produced Far More Promising Results than the Kind of Embryo-Destroying
           Research that Senate Bill 5 Would Provide Federal Funding For.

           Although experimentation on living human embryos raises serious ethical concerns, the

debate over how federal research dollars should be spent will likely focus on the potential health

benefits offered by various types of stem cell research. In this debate, science and ethics go hand

in hand because stem cell research that does not require the destruction of human embryos—

such as research involving adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and amniotic fluid—has

yielded great results in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases. On the other hand, embryonic

stem cell research has not lived up to the lofty claims of its supporters; the main product of

embryonic stem cell research has been cancerous tumors.

           Many supporters of embryonic stem cell research have claimed that it is a sort of magic

potion or Fountain of Youth that will cure all diseases known to man, and the only thing slowing

unimaginable scientific progress is a lack of federal funding of that research. However, “some of

the public pronouncements in the field of stem cell research come close to over-promising at best

     S.30 (emphasis added).

American Center for Law and Justice                                     CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

and delusional fantasizing at worst.”12 The stark reality is that embryonic stem cell research has

yielded few actual results. Proponents of embryonic stem-cell research “are adamant that stem

cells extracted from embryos hold the promise for curing debilitating diseases like Parkinson’s

and diabetes . . . [b]ut after years of research and unrealistic expectations, the results are still

disappointing—and likely to be so for quite some time.”13 “All successful treatments in humans

have been with non-embryonic stem cells.”14 “There are no successes in humans with embryonic

stem cells. No human clinical trials are underway.”15

        Supporters of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research have sought to avoid the

fact that, “[i]n more than 20 years of animal trials, embryonic stem cells have shown a tendency

to cause tumors and other abnormalities.”16 “[A]ll embryonic stem cells tend to become

cancerous. . . . Non-embryonic stem cells, however, do not become cancerous.”17 In many

animal studies using embryonic stem cells, 25 to 50 percent of the animals developed tumors; in

one recent study, 100 percent of the rats tested developed brain tumors.18 “Potential” is the key

buzzword among supporters of embryonic stem cell research precisely because there is an

appalling lack of actual medical evidence to support their grandiose claims.

        On the other hand, several avenues of research that do not involve the destruction of

human embryos have already yielded significant benefits. “As they have for more than two

decades, scientists continue to expand the capacity of non-embryonic stem cells. More than

   Shirley M. Tilghman, Address to the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, Nov. 11, 2004, available at
   Christine M. Flowers, Editorial, Stem Cells: The Inconvenient Truth, Philadelphia Daily News, Jan. 19, 2007
(emphasis added).
   Sheryl Pitner, Straight Facts of Stem Cell Research, Lincoln Journal Star (Nebraska), Feb. 12, 2007 (emphasis
   Id. (emphasis added).
   Id. (emphasis added); see also Flowers, supra note 13.
   Code of Silence; Another Source of Useful Stem Cells has Been Found—and the Media and the Cloning Crowd
are Trying to Keep it Quiet, The Daily Standard, Feb. 7, 2007.
   Joyce Howard Price, Stem-Cell Researchers Look Beyond the Embryo, Washington Times, Feb. 11, 2007.

American Center for Law and Justice                                       CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

1,100 human clinical trials are in progress.”19 One source of stem cells that does not involve the

destruction of human embryos is blood from umbilical cords, or “cord blood.”20 Cord blood stem

cells “can engraft and grow to replace a recipient’s diseased bone marrow with new, healthy

bone marrow cells.”21 “To date, more than 70 different diseases have been treated with cord

blood transplants,” including “a wide range of cancers, genetic disease, immune system

deficiencies, and blood disorders” such as lymphoma, sickle-cell anemia, and osteoporosis.22

         Stem cells in the amniotic fluid of pregnant women are another promising avenue of

research. A recent study revealed that amniotic fluid stem cells grow as fast as embryonic stem

cells and can be differentiated into functional fat, bone, muscle, liver, and nervous tissue.23

“[A]mniotic fluid might prove to yield an ideal stem cell—not as primitive as embryonic stem

cells . . . but also not as developed as adult stem cells and therefore more ‘pluripotential’ in the

kinds of tissues it can produce.”24 The amniotic fluid cells have a clear advantage over

embryonic stem cells—“[t]hey remain stable for years without forming tumors.”25 “In addition to

being easily obtainable, the AFS cells can be grown in large quantities because they typically

double every 36 hours.”26 This development may provide hope for patients with diabetes, heart

   Pitner, supra note 14.
   New York Blood Center, Cord Blood Q&A, available at http://www.nationalcordbloodprogram.org.
   Id.; see also Treatable Diseases and Future Uses of Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells, 2007, available at
http://www.viacord.com/; Umbilical Cord Blood Transplant: Effective New Leukemia Treatment for Adults, Science
Daily, June 19, 2001, available at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010614064016.htm; Emily Byers,
Research Destroys Lives and Poses Moral Problem, The Daily Reveille, Feb. 1, 2007.
   Anthony Atala, et al., Isolation of Amniotic Stem Cell Lines With Potential for Therapy, 25 Nat. Biotech. 100, Jan.
2007, available at http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v25/n1/pdf/nbt1274.pdf; Office of Congressman Michael
Burgess, Doctors Discuss Advancements in Amniotic Stem Cell Research, States News Service, Feb. 7, 2007.
   Charles Krauthammer, Bush’s Historic Veto: He Held the Line Against a Brave New World, Jan. 12, 2007,
available at http://article.nationalreview.com.
   Breakthrough?; Discovery may Recast Stem Cell Debate, The Oklahoman, Jan. 17, 2007.
   Stem Cell Research; Scientists Discover a New, Readily Available Source of Stem Cells, Law & Health Weekly,
Feb. 3, 2007.

American Center for Law and Justice                                    CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

disease, Parkinson’s disease or other neurological disorders.27 The HOPE Act would encourage

the use of amniotic fluid stem cells in research through federal funding and the establishment of

a National Amniotic and Placental Stem Cell Bank.

         Perhaps the most promising avenue of stem cell research is adult stem cells. It has been

well known for years that “adult stem cells (and other ‘post-natal’ stem cells) have vast

biomedical potential to cure diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, heart disease, and other

degenerative diseases.”28 In fact, this “biomedical potential” is “as great or greater than the

potential offered by human embryonic stem cell research.”29 Adult stem cells are typically taken

from existing bone marrow and “can transform into different types of tissues including bone,

cartilage and connective tissues.”30 Unlike embryonic stem cell research, many studies using

adult stem cells have already produced significant results in the treatment of many diseases,


     •   Immune system diseases (such as lupus) and bone marrow deficiencies31
     •   Heart disease32
     •   Liver disease33

   See, e.g., Mary Carmichael, Escaping a Moral Mess; Scientists may Have Found a Way Out of the Quandary over
Whether to Destroy Embryos or Cure People, Newsweek, Jan. 22, 2007.
   A Review of the National Institute of Health’s “Guidelines for Research Using Human Pluripotent Stem Cells,” 17
Issues L. & Med. 293 (2002).
   Id. (emphasis in original).
   U of MN Adult Stem Cell Research Shows Promise for Transplant Therapies, 2007, available at
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-01/uom-uom011207.php; Byers, supra note 22; Stem Cell Treatment
Eliminates Lupus: A Huge Step Forward, June 5, 2006, available at http://abclocal.gov.com/kgo/story?section=
edell&id=4238935&ft=print; J. M. van Laar & A. Tyndall, Adult Stem Cells in the Treatment of Autoimmune
Diseases, 45 Oxford J. Med. - Rheumatology 1187-1193 (2006), available at http://rheumatology.oxfordjournal.org/
   Daniel Hoare, Researchers Grow Human Heart Tissue from Stem Cells, The World Today, June 7, 2006,
available at http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2006/s1657710.htm; Abigail Leonard, Stem Cell Treatment
Could Save Patients With Heart Failure; In Study, Leg Cells Injected Into Dead Heart Muscle Dramatically
Improved Organ’s Performance, Mar. 26, 2007, available at http://abcnews.go.com/Health/print?id=2981332; Stem
Cell Trials Show Sustained Heart Function Improvement, Medical News Today, Sept. 21, 2006, available at
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=52366; Cultured Autologous Stem Cell Trials Show
Sustained Heart Function Improvement, Managed Care Business Week, Oct. 17. 2006; Adult Heart Cells Learn to
Heal, Medical News Today, Nov. 20, 2006, available at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/

American Center for Law and Justice                                  CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

     •   Kidney disease (diabetic research)34
     •   Neurodegenerative diseases (such as Parkinson’s)35
     •   Recovery from chemotherapy36
     •   Chronic back pain37
     •   Diseased or damaged body parts38
     •   Muscular dystrophy39
     •   Vision loss40

         In sum, research techniques that do not involve the destruction of human embryos have

been tremendously successful in producing real results that have helped patients with a wide

variety of diseases. There is a mountain of medical evidence supporting the utility of stem cells

from non-embryonic sources such as umbilical cord blood, amniotic fluid, and adults. On the

other hand, embryonic stem cell research has yet to demonstrate any sustained effectiveness in

treating diseases despite a celebrity-driven media campaign in its favor. It is absurd to throw

away millions of dollars of taxpayer money to chase the “potential” of embryonic stem cell

research when so many other avenues of research have already produced incredible scientific

breakthroughs and will continue to do so in the future.

   Stem Cells Speed Liver Tissue Growth, Newstrack, Mar. 27, 2007, available at www.upi.com/NewsTrack/
   See, e.g., Insulin Stem Cells Hold Hope for Diabetes Treatment, Nov. 7, 2006, available at
   Scientists Produce Neurons from Human Skin: Breakthrough Could Lead to Revolutionary Advances in the Fight
Against Neurodegenerative Diseases, Feb. 22, 2007, available at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-
02/ul-spn022207.php; Stem Cell Treatment Proven To Reduce Parkinson’s Symptoms, Medical News Today, Oct.
25, 2006, available at www.medicalnewstoday.com/printerfriendlynews.php?newsid=54956.
   Aman Batheja, No quarter, Little Change; In the Furious Debate Over Embryonic Stem-Cell Research, Both Sides
Might Settle for the Status Quo - For Now, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Feb. 11, 2007.
   Byers, supra note 22.
   Cheryl Pon, Study: Adult Stem Cells Can Become Muscle, The Daily Californian, Nov. 1, 2006, available at
http://www.dailycal.org/printable.php?id=22084; Rafael Neiman, Case Study Reports That Orthopedic Trauma
Surgeon Injects Adult Stem Cells Derived From the Patient’s Own Marrow Into Her Broken Legs, Which Had Not
Healed by Seven Months Post-Injury – Instead of Open Surgery, Percutaneous Injection of a High Dose of Adult
Stem Cells Prepared at the Patient’s Bedside May Offer Orthopedic Surgeons and Patients a New Option for
Treating Troublesome Nonunions or Delayed-Healing Fractures, Feb. 8, 2007, available at http://biz.yahoo.com/
   Mesoangioblast Stem Cells Ameliorate Muscle Function in Dystrophic Dogs, Nature, Nov. 15, 2006, available at
   Bone Marrow May Restore Cells Lost in Vision Diseases, ScienceDaily, June 8, 2006, available at

American Center for Law and Justice                           CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

III.   Stem Cell Research that Entails the Destruction of Human Embryos is Unethical
       and Shows a Lack of Basic Respect for the Dignity of Human Life.

       While proponents of embryonic stem cell research frequently tout the endless “potential”

of such research, they often fail to address, or even acknowledge, the serious ethical issues raised

by experimentation on a living human being. Human beings are entitled to a basic level of

dignity at all levels of their development; they are not mere lab rats to be used in scientific

experimentation. The ethical limitations that S.5 would impose on embryonic stem cell research

are arbitrary in light of the rationale supporting the bill. Once it is decided that living human

embryos are appropriate subjects of scientific experimentation, there is no principled basis for

objecting to the creation of embryos for the sole purpose of using them for research. The only

principled way to maintain respect for all human life is to reject S.5 and enact the HOPE Act.

       The embryonic stem cell debate can be boiled down to one simple question: Is a living

human embryo entitled to some level of dignity that outweighs society’s interest in using it as a

tool to pursue scientific advancement? In other words, does the end (potential medical advances)

justify the means (destroying human embryos during experimentation)? It is incredibly

dangerous to rush headlong toward the mirage of the unlimited potential of unfettered scientific

research on human embryos without considering the profound moral and ethical implications of

such a decision. One must consider what could become of a society that denigrates human life to

the point of measuring its value in terms of its usefulness, rather than its inherent value. At the

very least, the fact that alternatives to embryonic stem cell research have had such great success

counsels strongly against pushing the ethical boundaries.

       All human life has inherent value and worth. Experimentation on living human beings is

an affront to the human dignity that we are all entitled to. Embryonic stem cell research

subordinates the dignity and sanctity of human life to the inferior interests of efficiency and

American Center for Law and Justice                                CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

utilitarianism. Even assuming that a human embryo should not be entitled to the full range of

human rights that a born human being has, does that mean that a human embryo has no inherent

value? Would that value exceed that of the mold, the leaf or the bacteria occupying the common

Petri dish? Of course it would. We are discussing human life—a human embryo is simply a

human being that has not yet been given the opportunity to grow, be born, and develop into

childhood and adulthood. The mold, the leaf, and the bacteria do not possess the unique ability to

develop into a human being; the human embryo has inherent value in light of this unique

characteristic. The human embryo is unquestionably human.

           One author has explained the danger of abandoning the principle that all human life is

deserving of respect and protection as follows:

           Researchers can argue that embryonic stem cells are “the future of medical
           research,” that science shouldn’t be hindered by petty ethical constraints. That’s a
           slippery slope if I’ve ever seen one. If they can’t see where to draw the line in this
           case, how can we expect them to exercise restraint when it comes to human
           cloning or euthanasia? Either human life merits protection at every stage of its
           existence, or it doesn’t. As a former embryo, I have to object to the destruction of
           embryos for science’s sake.41

All humans have intrinsic value, not because of what they can do, but because of what they are.

           Supporters of S.5 argue that, since the embryo is already slated to die, then it is more

efficient to make practical use of it by conducting research on it. This ideology is extremely

troubling. By divorcing human life from human dignity, this brand of ethics would justify

experimenting on death row inmates, the terminally ill or those in an irreversible vegetative state.

These people are going to die anyway, so wouldn’t it be more efficient to make practical use of

them by conducting research on them? This kind of argument is repulsive, but it logically

follows once it has been decided that some human beings are not entitled to a level of basic

dignity due to their humanity. “Once we have taken the position of many stem-cell advocates
     Byers, supra note 22.

American Center for Law and Justice                             CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

that embryos are discardable tissue with no more intrinsic value than a hangnail or an appendix,

then all barriers are down.”42 Every human being—regardless of his physical condition or the

number of days until he dies—has the right not to be treated cruelly or inhumanely or like a

common lab rat.

           Proponents of federal funding for embryo-destroying stem cell research cite the fact that

funding is only available if the embryo was created for fertility purposes, and researchers cannot

pay or otherwise induce couples to decide to donate their embryos for research purposes, as

points in favor of expanded federal funding. While these are certainly laudable ethical limitations

on federal funding, they illustrate why embryo-destroying experimentation is unethical. Once it

is determined that it is ethical to destroy human embryos during research, there is no principled

basis for maintaining these other limitations. If it is okay for the federal government to pay

scientists for research on these leftover embryos, why wouldn’t it also be okay for clinics (or

even the federal government) to pay parents to help ensure that there are enough embryos to use

for research? Since S.5 is based upon the idea that embryonic stem cell research should be

federally funded because it has boundless potential to help society and is ethically sound, if S.5

were enacted into law, it would only be a matter of time before the restriction on financial

inducements would be abandoned in the name of scientific progress.

           Moreover, there is a consensus that it is unethical to create embryos solely for the

purpose of using them for scientific research. Why is this unethical? Most people feel uneasy

about the idea of creating embryos for the sole purpose of using them for experimentation

because it looks like human life is being cheapened and degraded. However, if it is true that

embryonic stem cell research is ethically permissible and has the potential to benefit many

people, why wouldn’t it also be acceptable to produce embryos solely for research purposes? If
     Krauthammer, supra note 24.

American Center for Law and Justice                           CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM

the only thing to consider is whether the benefit to society outweighs the interests of the embryo,

there is no principled basis for restricting the creation of embryos for research purposes once it

has been determined that it is acceptable to experiment on leftover embryos.


       The only way to prevent the inevitable erosion of our respect for all human life is to

maintain the clear line drawn by President Bush’s policy—and the HOPE Act—that human life

is not a mere cog in the machine of scientific progress. S.5’s elimination of existing restrictions

on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research would be both imprudent and immoral. The

HOPE Act would chart a much wiser course by shifting the focus of federal funding to

alternative methods of stem cell research such as adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and

amniotic fluid. Unlike embryonic stem cell research, these alternative research techniques have

produced substantial results in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases. The HOPE Act draws

a critically important line that would ensure that all human beings are afforded a basic level of

dignity at all levels of their development. Congress should reject S.5 and enact the HOPE Act to

preserve a clear ethical line.


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