NRLC Urges Senators to Protect Human
Reproduced below is the text of a letter sent by NRLC to U.S. senators on June 6, 2000, in opposition to the Specter-Harkin bill (S. 2015) to authorize federal funding of medical experimentation that kills human embryos. For more information on this issue, please see the Action Alert that appears on the back cover of this edition, and visit the section of the NRLC website titled "Federal Legislation: Killing Human Embryos." Also, see "Myths and Realities of Stem Cell Research" above.
June 6, 2000
RE: Specter-Harkin bill (S. 2015) to kill human embryos
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) urges you to oppose legislation (S. 2015), proposed by Senators Specter and Harkin, to authorize federal sponsorship and funding of research that kills human embryos. This bill may come before the Senate later this month.
Current law [the Dickey Amendment, in P.L. 106-113] prohibits federal funding of any "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death." This law embodies the principle that non- consenting human beings must not be subjected to harmful medical experimentation. The Specter-Harkin bill would rupture that principle by authorizing federally sponsored researchers to obtain living embryos and dissect themthereby killing themto obtain their stem cells.
The debate is not about "stem cell research" per se. The federal government properly supports the work of many medical researchers who are utilizing human stem cells obtained from sources that do not require the destruction of human embryos, such as adult blood, bone marrow and nerve tissue, and umbilical cords and placentas. The argument here is about whether the federal government should sponsor and fund the purposeful killing of human embryos.
Sen. Specter has argued that his bill would not authorize "the creation of human embryos" especially for research purposes, but would merely utilize "spare" embryos who "otherwise would be discarded" by infertility clinics. In practice, this is a distinction without a difference, since in vitro fertilization practitioners are and would remain free to produce as many "spare" embryos as they wish. We urge you to reject the concept that federal law should regard some human beings as disposable " surplus," or that a human being's status under federal law should depend on whether or not he or she is "going to die anyway."
We anticipate that any key procedural or direct votes on S. 2015 will be included in NRLC's scorecard of key right-to-life votes of the 106th Congress.
Thank you for your consideration of NRLC's position on this important issue.