Saturday, June 23, 2001
(WOMENSENEWS)--The American Heart Association, a 30,000-member organization of physicians, nurses and researchers, bowed to anti-abortion forces and abandoned its decision to underwrite promising embryonic stem cell research that could help fight deadly heart disease.
The Wall Street Journal reported June 22 that the association's board made the reversal at its fall meeting after its chief fundraiser argued that anti-abortion advocates who oppose stem-cell research could cost the association 15 percent of its projected income.
The board originally voted to underwrite embryonic stem cell research and endorse government-support research using embryonic stem cells. It now will support only research involving adult stem cells, said by many to be less useful. It also will continue to endorse government supported embryonic stem-cell research, but with no association money or staff support. Embryonic stem cells are mostly derived from days-old embryos left over from fertility treatments; most regulations ban the use of tissue from aborted fetuses.
Abortion opponents argue that the fact that embryonic stem cell research could save lives could encourage abortions. These opponents also argue that the research ends life by destroying embryos. For the opponents, these facts by far outweigh any live-saving scientific potential.
The Bush administration is considering whether to permit federal funding of embryonic stem cell research using only embryos left over from in-vitro fertilization. President George W. Bush, who is anti-choice, opposes the funding but his administration is said to be divided.
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By Sarah Stewart Taylor