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Pyrrhic pro-life victory. (Insider Report).

In late October, the Bush administration "revised the charter of a federal advisory committee concerned with the safety of research volunteers to specify that embryos in experiments are 'human subjects' whose welfare should be considered along with that of fetuses, children and adults," reported the AP on October 3 0th. The National Human Research Protections Advisory Committee, created in 1995, "offers recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], which would then have to initiate rulemaking or encourage legislation if it wanted to put any new protections in place." In addition, that committee is presently vacant and would have to be reconstituted before the charter revisions would have any tangible impact.

Nonetheless, this symbolic gesture earned plaudits from pro-life activists. "We applaud the Bush administration for recognizing the humanity of the embryo," stated Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council. Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, also commended the president for "recognizing that all members of the human family are human subjects at every stage of development and should be protected from unethical and harmful forms of research."

But the problem is that President Bush's decision "does not require that embryos used in research be given any particular protections," noted the AP report. The HHS advisory panel does suggest guidelines for research involving volunteer subjects--but the human embryos "whose welfare should be considered" are obviously not volunteers.

By permitting limited experimentation on human embryos, President Bush endorsed the idea that some human individuals can be forced to act as experimental subjects in the name of the common good. His most recent decision italicizes that offense by recognizing the unambiguous humanity of the subjects of those experiments.
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Publication:The New American
Date:Dec 2, 2002
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