The Human Embryo

Author: Judie Brown


Topic: The Human Embryo

Now that the 104th Congress is in full swing, it is our obligation to insist that those elected officials who consider themselves pro-life be expected to do all that they can to protect the youngest human beings from research and experimentation. Our hope is that the 104th Congress will not only deny all funding to such research and experimentation, but that it will ban it as well, whether funded privately or by taxpayers.

At the state level, we hope that each state legislature that has not already done so will cut off all state funds to any institution involved in this grim research and experimentation, and that each state legislature will present a statement of facts and a petition to the 104th Congress asking it to protect all innocent human beings, born and preborn, from such grotesque practices.

This means that the reader of communique‚ must have access to as much valid and scientifically accurate information as possible. In these pages we will provide you with excerpts from such material. In each case you may contact American Life League to receive the complete document should you require more information on a particular aspect of the material presented here.


The first thing we should understand is the actual history of human embryo research. Who is behind it and how long has it been a goal of those who claim to specialize in the science of human reproduction?

One could say that the January 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton U.S. Supreme Court decisions truly opened the floodgates to many bizarre attitudes toward preborn human beings. The U.S. Supreme Court's decisions were based solely on a mother's right to privacy. A woman's decision to end the life of her baby became fully protected by the Court for the entire duration of her pregnancy. All she needed was an abortionist willing to terminate her child. At this point preborn human beings became non-persons in the legal sense and, subsequently, available for research purposes. The dehumanization process had begun.

Shortly after that, in April 1973, the Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) "repeated what it had already proposed in March of 1972: that fetal research should go forward with proper ethical and scientific guidelines. It stated that researchers should not be involved in the abortion procedures themselves, and that the rights of the mother and of the fetus should be 'fully considered.' The travesty of this seemingly protective language was challenged by [Paul] Ramsey in The Ethics of Fetal Research: 'It was not explained how the human fetus can be said still to be a bearer of "rights" or what rights remain, if the experiments are done when abortion is in view or has already been set on course.'"1

The research industry itself, best represented by the American Fertility Society (AFS), was poised to acquire large grants of money for research and experimentation that it would claim were necessary to understand the development of the human being, not to mention treatment of those who were infertile or otherwise in need of technological assistance in order to have a child. It is interesting to note, for example, that between 1974 and 1988 the membership of the AFS grew from 3,600 to over 12,000.2 Why? Because infertility specialization became a lucrative and necessary expansion of the desire of many scientists had to understand and participate in the creation of man, not to mention genetic study and manipulation.

After experimenting on the older preborn child directly following the abortion, or robbing the child of his or her tissue during the abortion, it was only a matter of time before these research scientists and reproductive technologists were ready to create human beings in test tubes. They promised infertile couples the chance to bear children, and simultaneously continuing their quest for knowledge by dissecting and destroying the youngest and most vulnerable of all human beings-the human embryo. Recognizing that the public might have serious objections, their first course of action was to redefine these tiny children in such a way that the public would be convinced that, though the embryos might be human, their moral status was certainly not equal to those already born. Enter the pre-embryo! A Pre-embryo? A Pre-implantation Embryo? A What?

How does one legitimize experiments and research on human beings without engendering outrage in the community at large? One way is to describe that human being using a term that negates his or her humanity. This is how the term pre-embryo, and more recently, pre-implantation embryo-both phrases having propaganda value but absolutely no scientific validity-came into use. Author Suzanne Rini, in chronicling the 1993 cloning experiment at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., gave the history of these terms and cited the work of two scientists, both members of the American Fertility Society (AFS) and both committed to reproductive technological advancement at all costs. Both of these scientists are critically important to understanding the current state of affairs.

Ann McLaren is a British biologist who has made numerous presentations to the American Fertility Society (AFS).

Clifford Grobstein, a member of AFS, is a Professor of Biological Science and Public Policy, Emeritus, at the University of California, San Diego. Both individuals are, as Rini pointed out from a historical perspective, eugenicists and propagandists. She wrote:

"By 'pre-embryo,' McLaren and Grobstein mean that in the first 12 days of life there is a genetic human present but no distinct individual, an obviously false duality, but well prepared for by years of lying about the unborn's moral status in order to legitimate and spread abortion. The pre-embryo is also defined to be that aggregation of cells that simply produces the placenta and other structures extraneous to the embryo. No individual can be present, claims this definition, because, until the 12-day limit, twinning is still possible. Needless to note, this entire falsity was merely created to lay hands on embryos."3

Clearly the use of such terms robs the tiny human being of perceived value and denies his or her association with those human beings who are fortunate enough to survive long enough to implant in their mothers' womb. The re-definition of these human beings would, as we now know, make it easier for the National Institutes of Health's Human Embryo Research Panel to do its biased work and carry forth the proposition that human beings must be genetically manipulated, dissected and destroyed for the greater good of society. How else could man come to understand the entire function of procreation and its outcome (the child)? Further, if genetic testing is to be done earlier and earlier in pregnancy so that women need not carry defective children, then surely such research must continue on those who are truly not as "human" as the rest of us.

The Gang of 19 Is Affirmed

On September 27, 1994, a group of 19 scientists and philosophers, with not one member in disagreement, recommended to National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Harold Varmus that human embryo research be approved and that it move forward as soon as possible. Following that recommendation, on December 2, the Ethics Advisory Board of the National Institutes of Health concurred and made the very same recommendations to Dr. Varmus, though President Clinton did direct that no public funds be used to create human embryos for the express purpose of research and experimentation. President Clinton did not oppose the creation of such human embryos in the private sector.

The vocabulary used by the 19-member Human Embryo Research Panel is cause for concern. Father Richard John Neuhaus wrote: "The panel claims not to be imposing a philosophy or moral judgment. The claim is false. The philosophy is ordinarily called utilitarianism. Admittedly, the panel's is a strikingly primitive and vulgar form of utilitarianism, but from that philosophy it derives the moral judgment that the end justifies the means. . . . "The panel also arrogates to itself the political responsibility 'to arrive at a reasonable accommodation to diverse interests.' . . . "Absent vigorous intervention by Congress and public opinion, we are crossing a threshold from which, in all likelihood, there will be no return."4

One might wonder how 19 members of a selectively appointed panel could have gotten this far with such horrifying recommendations. One need only understand that even during the Reagan and Bush years, when many people were under the impression that there was a ban on federal involvement in such experiments, the experiments were indeed proceeding almost without a hitch! So it is not really surprising that, by 1994, 19 people with many documented conflicts of interest 5 were placed in a position of power with almost nothing to stand in their way. The members of the Human Embryo Research Panel, and those in support of their position, can now be checked only by vigorous action from not only the United States Congress, but state legislatures, community groups and any other Americans who believe that human beings should never become research subjects in experiments that result in their deaths.

Can Human Embryo Research Be Ethical?

Dianne Irving, M.A., Ph.D., testified before the Human Embryo Research Panel in March 1994. During that testimony she outlined the ethical requirements of scientific research. In her remarks she challenged what she called fake science, and asked what had happened to correct science:

"Why have NIH and the scientific community allowed this fake science to go uncorrected in the literature for over 15 years-with no censure, and continued to use scientists and bioethicists who perpetrate this fake science as paid consultants and grantees? Why is there no human embryologist on this panel? Your earlier discussions on how to define the human embryo-that on which you are attempting to regulate research-was, from an objective scientific point of view, mortifying and embarrassing. Does NIH-one of the greatest scientific research institutions in the world-mean to have political scientists, sociologists, feminists and bioethicists define scientifically what a human embryo is?"6

And please note this from Dr. Irving:

"A second ethical requirement of scientific research is that the design of the protocol itself be ethical. For our purposes here, if the very design of the protocol used in human embryo research is unethical-i.e., specifically designed to destroy a living developing human being during the process of experimental research-then the whole experiment is unethical."7

It's the New Wave-That's All!

It seems clear that one of the problems we face with the onslaught of this research and experimentation on preborn human beings is the abuse of language and the continuing promotion and sale of false definitions designed solely for the purpose of desensitizing the American public. Embryologist C. Ward Kischer recently wrote about this "new wave" and he attributed it, or at least a great deal of it, to Clifford Grobstein, mentioned earlier in this report.

Kischer pointed out that Grobstein is a "leading spokesman for 'choice', but prefers to identify it as 'public policy', and a leading sponsor of human embryo 'research'. Grobstein is the avant-garde of those reinventing human development, and those writing a new social policy for the status of the new individual."8

Dr. Kischer pointed out that an informed public can apply pressure where it will do the most good. But this also means that each of us must understand what is at stake, for it is far more than the single question of human embryo research. Rather, it is the larger question of whether or not all human beings will ultimately become subjects of the new wave scientists, who may well define many of us as less than human, perhaps with such phrases as pre-dead beings, or pre-cadaveric subjects.

As Kischer wrote, in the conclusion to his article, "Embryology does not stop at birth. The fundamental processes of embryology are continued even into old age and death. This is so because all of life is a continuum. Therefore the human, the person, the individual are all identical in the conceptual sense. Hence, the value of life is established at the initial contact of sperm and ovum and cannot be 'detached' because of a self-serving or arbitrary reinvention of human embryology."9

The Numbed Conscience Denies Murder

The late professor and theologian Paul Ramsey put it best when he wrote, more than 24 years ago:

"I may pause here to raise the question whether a scientist has not an entirely 'frivolous conscience' who, faced with the awesome technical possibility that soon human life may be created in the laboratory and then be either terminated or preserved in existence as an experiment, or, who gets up at scientific meetings and gathers to himself newspaper headlines by urging his colleagues to prepare for that scientific accomplishment by giving attention to the 'ethical' questions it raises-if he is not at the same time, and in advance, prepared to stop the whole procedure should the 'ethical finding' concerning this fact-situation turn out to be, for any serious conscience, murder. It would perhaps be better not to raise the ethical issues, than not to raise them in earnest."10

Indeed, the serious conscience would have to admit that the intentional destruction of any innocent human being, whether the size of a period at the end of a sentence, or the age of 80 and rocking peacefully in a nursing home, or at any stage in between, is murder.

Action Items 1. Ask the members of your church, community organizations, and school groups to sign a petition protesting the use of public funds (feder al or state) used to subsidize destructive human embryo research. Contact our office for petition copies, please.

2. Provide your pastor with background information and ask him to give a sermon during the month of February, explaining why Christians must oppose this horrific research and experimentation.

3. Write to your elected officials, letting them know that you expect them to:

*strip all appropriation and authorization bills of federal funding for non-therapeutic, destructive research and experimentation on human embryos;

*investigate the NIH's misuse of taxpayer funds (The Human Embryo Research Panel, for example, was composed of individuals who had a conflict of interest. Not one human embryologist was on this panel. The Panel was stacked!);

*hold Congressional hearings with expert testimony on human embryonic development, using correct science;

*and prohibit all destructive, non-therapeutic human embryo research by ensuring full legal protection for all human beings from fertiliza tion. 4. Each time human embryo research is mentioned in your local newspaper or on your local television or radio stations, make sure that accur ate information is reported. If not, let them know by writing let ters to the editor or making a phone call.

5. Above all, pray that God will bless our nation with the will to overcome this evil that has gripped our society on so many levels.

Further Reading:

Following is a list of materials not cited above, but readily available:

"The Inhuman Use of Human Beings: A Statement on Embryo Research by the Ramsey Colloquium," First Things, #49, 1/95, pp. 17-21.

Edward C. Freiling, Ph.D., "The Attempted Justification of Embryo Research," The Wanderer, 12/8/94, p. 12.

Cal Thomas, "Embryo Research Attacks Humanity," Lansing (MI) State Journal, 10/9/94, p. 8A.

Doris Gordon, "On Human Embryo Research," Libertarians for Life, 4/11/94 testimony to the Human Embryo Research Panel.

"Focus on the Family Position Statement on Embryo/Fetal Experimentation," Social Research Brief, 11/28/94.

George Weigel, "A Brave New World Is Hatched," Los Angeles Times, 11/27/94.

"Was Jesus an Embryo? The Ethics of Human Embryo Research and the Brave New World" (Nashville, TN: Christian Life Commission of the Southern Bap tist Convention, 11/94). Communique is prepared by Judie Brown and disseminated by American Life League because "It is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the Sovereignties and the powers who originate the darkness in this world" (Ephesians 6:12). c 1995, Stafford, VA 22554 (USA); phone 703-659-4171; fax 703-659-2586. Vol. 5, #2, $13.95 per annum.