Researchers Growing Embryos in Lab Push for Brave New World; Cheapen Attitude Toward Human Life

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 4, 2016
Contact: Mallory Quigley, mquigley@sba-list.org, 202-223-8073

Scientists Seek to Normalize, Expand Experimentation on and Destruction of Human Embryos in new Nature Commentary

Washington, D.C. – This afternoon the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), the research arm of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, responded to commentary in the latest issue of Nature.

In a piece made public today, commentators Insoo Hyun, Amy Wilkerson, and Josephine Johnston encourage research groups to culture human embryos beyond 14 days, and continue experimenting on them, exceeding the long standing guideline and, in some countries, legal limit that no research be done on human embryos past 14 days’ post-conception.

At least 12 countries ban experimentation on embryos past “primitive streak formation,” a stage of development around the 14-day mark when the nervous system first starts to develop.  The commentators argue that the 14-day rule was “never intended to be a bright line denoting onset of moral status,” but merely “a public-policy tool” to accommodate both research and deeply-held views on when life begins.

Charlotte Lozier Institute Vice President and Director of Research, Dr. David Prentice, slams the commentators for seeking to move the limit. He argues that it has become inconvenient in their eyes, especially as experiments reliant on embryonic stem cells, fetal tissue, and other morally problematic means have yielded little results.

“If you haven’t read Brave New World in a while, it’s time to refresh the memory,” said Dr. David Prentice, a professor of molecular genetics and an Advisory Board Member for the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center. “No human being should be used for lethal experimentation, no matter their age or stage of development. The 14-day rule is itself arbitrary, and does not assuage those who believe life begins at the moment of sperm-egg fusion. Moreover, allowing experiments on human embryos beyond 14 days post-fertilization risks the lives of untold more human beings, because it further encourages creation and destruction for research purposes. The deadly research on young human embryos has yielded no benefit thus far, meanwhile morally unproblematic means are delivering treatments and even cures for some of the most pressing health issues of our day.

“If this research does not stop at 14 days, where does it stop?” continued Prentice. “Is there any bright line which should not be crossed? This is a risky step which could encourage further eugenic attitudes and actions. Congress ought to have a full and open debate on the issue of human embryo research before the research community moves further without oversight.”

Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony List.  CLI is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world. The Institute is named for a feminist physician known for her commitment to the sanctity of human life and equal career and educational opportunities for women.

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