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WASHINGTON (RNS) Christian conservative groups decried new federal guidelines that will increase taxpayer dollars going to embryonic stem cell research.
The guidelines, which took effect Tuesday (July 7) after they were issued by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), stipulate that federally funded research will be allowed only on excess embryos at fertility clinics that would otherwise be discarded.
Embryos cannot be created solely for research, and donors must give “voluntary written consent” to use the embryos for research.
Championed by scientists for their potential to treat and cure a multitude of illnesses, embryonic stem cell research raises concern for those who believe that embryos are nascent forms of human life.
“We have stated it is wrong to kill human beings at any stage of life for experimentation or for research purposes,” said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Woman for America (CWA), a conservative Christian advocacy group. “But on top of that basic wrong, they’ve added even more problems.”
Wright said the guidelines violate the spirit of the Dickey Amendment, a 1995 federal law that prohibits taxpayer dollars from funding processes that destroy or endanger human embryos.
“The whole world of fertility industry is completely unregulated,” Wright said. “That’s one reason why we have these excess embryos.”
Wright worries these guidelines will give incentives to create more excess embryos because the federal government will fund research on them.
President Obama lifted the ban on embryonic stem cell research last March, but left it to the NIH to craft ethical boundaries. These rules come after a lengthy feedback process, in which NIH received more than 49,000 responses.
By Tiffany Stanley
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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