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Published March 19, 1999 | public
Journal Article

Science Over Politics


Last month, 70 members of the U.S. Congress, including Henry Hyde, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and J. C. Watts Jr. Republican Conference Chairman, signed a letter urging the federal government to ban all research on stem cells obtained from human embryos and fetuses. The letter calls upon the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to reverse National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Harold Varmus's decision to allow funding of pluripotent stem cell research. The lawmakers object "in the strongest possible terms" to Varmus's decision, as well as to the memorandum issued in January by DHHS General Counsel Harriet Rabb, which served as the legal basis for Varmus's position. In their letter, the members of Congress state, "Any NIH action to initiate funding of such research would violate both the letter and spirit of the federal law banning federal support for research in which human embryos are harmed or destroyed." Federal laws and regulations, they claim, have protected human embryos and fetuses "from harmful experimentation at the hands of the Federal government" for more than two decades. "This area of law has provided a bulwark against government's misuse and exploitation of human beings in the name of medical progress. It would he a travesty for this Administration to attempt to unravel this accepted ethical standard."

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© 1999 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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August 19, 2023
October 18, 2023