Legislation / Court Cases

Embryos Upgraded to 'Human Subjects'(10/02)

A HHS advisory committee for the safety of research subjects has revised its charter to include embryos and fetuses as “human subjects”, regardless of their location. Although the change does not have an impact on federal policy, it was made to recognize that certain populations are vulnerable and worthy of protection. The advisory committee is designed to make recommendations to HHS, which would then present regulations or support legislation. While abortion advocates believe this is another step in overturning legalized abortion, others believe that, rather than squelching research, this change paves the way for more ethical research on human beings. Bill Pierce, a spokesman for HHS, said, “For many people, the terms fetuses, embryos and unborn children are used to described the same things.” The charter revision is one of several pro-life measures made by the Bush administration, such as including unborn children in state insurance plans and criminalizing those that harm or kill an unborn child. David Stevens, MD: “There is an organized effort underway to de-personify the embryo. That tactic was successful in the early days after Roe v. Wade but ultrasound technology changed that for second and third trimester fetuses. Headlines screamed this week that the Bush administration was saying (gasp!) that embryos are human beings! Abortion advocates were up in arms. If the homo sapien embryos are not human, then what species are they? If they are not beings (a living thing), into what category do they fall? If this campaign was not so tragic, it would be ridiculous. Have you ever heard a new mother say, ‘I’m pregnant with a potential human being?'” http://www.cloninginformation.org/; [“Beginning of Life Ethics Statements“Medical Abortion is Not Just a Medical Issue”, Today’s Christian Doctor; Meckler, Laura. “Research Embryos Called ‘Human’.” AP, 30 Oct02; Traditional Values Coalition News Vol. 5, Issue 44, 1Nov02; CMDA News & Views Vol-02 No-36, 7Nov02]