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February E-Legislative Action Alert

Federal Funding of Human Embryonic Stem Cell
Research Should Be Stopped

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued new guidelines for stem cell research on August 23, 2000, that would allow federal funding of research on stem cells that are removed from human embryos, but would forbid research on the embryo itself. (see National Institute of Health Guidelines for Research using Human Pluripotent Stem Cells, August 25, 2000, [corrected November 21, 2000] http://www.nih.gov/news/stemcell/stemcellguidelines.htm also see News and Events NIH http://www1.od.nih.gov/ormh/press_rel/stem_cell.html )

The 1996 law that prevents embryo use "in research" is circumvented by these new rules. Any "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk or injury or death" is prohibited by law from receiving federal funding.

March 15, 2001, is the NIH deadline for scientists applying for the agency's first round of stem cell research grants. As early as this spring, the NIH plans to begin funding research on embryonic stem cells unless the President intervenes.

In the past, President Bush said he "would oppose federally funded research for experimentation or embryonic stem cells that require live human embryos to be discarded or destroyed," said White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer on January 26, 2001, quoting the President's statements during the campaign. (1)

Destructive embryonic stem cell research is immoral and unnecessary. Major breakthroughs with adult stem cells have been demonstrated for the last two years. The distinct advantage of using adult stem cells instead of embryonic stem cells is the ability individuals have to regenerate tissue from their own cells. This procedure totally circumvents the problem of embryonic stem cell immune rejection.

President Bush must be contacted and urged to sign an executive order stopping the funding prior to its start. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson must also be contacted. Secretary Thompson is currently "reviewing" the Clinton administration's decision to fund such research; however, this is in its early stages. The Secretary must be urged to encourage the President to rescind the NIH guidelines. Along with the President and Secretary Tommy Thompson, individual congressmen and senators should be made aware of their own constituencies' oppositions to this research.

On February 28, 2001, HHS Secretary Thompson said that the administration would decide by summer whether to allow controversial stem cell research to proceed during his first year. (2)

In the past, the Secretary has praised stem cell research even though he counts himself to be pro-life. Among the first to isolate and grow stem cell lines were researchers in his home state of Wisconsin, where Thompson served as governor until joining the Bush administration.

(1) Ron Fournier, "Bush Won't Fund Stem Cell Research," The Associated Press, January 26, 2001

(2) Marlene Cimons, "Stem Cell Study Decision Due by Summer," Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2001

For more information on Stem Cell Research, visit Policies in the News (March 2001) to read the article under the heading Bioethics. (Click Here)

What Can You Do?

Send a message to

*President Bush
*Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson
*Your National Senators
*Your National Congressman

explaining your objection to the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and encouraging the halt of NIH funding of the research.

Contact Information:

1. President

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:

White House Operator: 202-456-1414
Comment Line: 202-456-6213
Fax: 202-456-2461
E-mail: president@whitehouse.gov

Website: http://www.whitehouse.gov

2. Secretary of Health and Human Service:

The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson
Secretary of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Room 615-F
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Secretary Thompson:

Telephone: 877-696-6775 (toll free)
Fax: 202-690-7203
E-mail: hhsmail@os.dhhs.gov

Website: http://www.dhhs.gov

3. U.S. Senator:

The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator (last name):

Capitol Hill Switchboard Numbers: 202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121 (Those numbers will direct you to the Capitol Hill operator. Ask for your senator's office.)

To go to your senator's website, find his E-mail or to find out who your senators are... http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm

4. U.S. Representative:

The Honorable (full name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative (last name):

Capitol Hill Switchboard Numbers: 202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121 (Those numbers will direct you to the Capitol Hill operator. Ask for your senator's office.)

To go to your representative's website, find his E-mail or to find out who your representatives are... http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.html

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