On Friday, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., along with U.S. Representative Andy Harris, M.D., R-Md., led a group of 94 legislators from both chambers of Congress to thank President Donald J. Trump for his efforts to support pro-life policies and request that he end taxpayer funding for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“Thank you for your bold efforts to protect the sanctity of human life… We write today to urge you to issue an Executive Order to end taxpayer funding of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research and to redirect these scarce federal research dollars toward alternatives that make a real difference for patients,” the legislators wrote.
Since 2017, the NIH has approved 106 new hESC lines, which brought the total number of approved hESC lines to 484. These lines are derived from live human embryos, which are destroyed when the lines are created. Funding for embryonic research at NIH has averaged between $250 and $300 million dollars over the past three years and yielded no “proof of a single patient’s life being saved through embryonic stem cell treatments.”
The expenditures for hESC research are inconsistent with longstanding federal law protecting human embryos. Wicker is co-author of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, first adopted in 1996, that prohibits federal funds from being used to support “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for research on fetuses in utero.”
“Human embryos are young human beings, and human life should never be expended as a mere means of benefiting another. We urge you to bring an end to NIH’s unethical and ineffective hESC research efforts and support research that will respect the sanctity of human life and deliver real benefits for patients,” the legislators concluded.
Joining Wicker and Harris in signing the letter are U.S. Senators Steve Daines, R-Mont., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo, Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., Mike Braun, R-Ind., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, John Thune, R-S.D., James Lankford, R-Okla., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., James Risch, R-Idaho, Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and John Boozman, R-Ark., and U.S. Representatives Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Jim Banks, R-Ind., Ralph Norman, R-S.C., Doug Collins, R-Ga., Steve Scalise, R-La., Trent Kelly, R-Miss., Randy K. Weber, R-Texas, Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., Bill Flores, R-Texas, Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., Michael Guest, R-Miss., Roger Marshall, M.D., R-Kansas, Pete Olson, R-Texas, Brian Babin, D.D.S., R-Texas, W. Gregory Steube, R-Fla., David P. Roe, M.D., R-Tenn., Jodey C. Arrington, R-Texas, Carol D. Miller, R-W.Va., Gus M. Bilirakis, R-Fla., Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., David Kustoff, R-Tenn., H. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-La., Michael Waltz, R-Fla., Jody B. Hice, R-Ga., Rick W. Allen, R-Ga., Tom Emmer, R-Minn., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Glenn Grothman, R-Wisc., John Joyce, M.D., R-Pa., Ted Budd, R-N.C., Michael C. Burgess, M.D., R-Texas, Larry Bucshon, M.D., R-Ind., Mo Brooks, R-Ala., John Shimkus, R-Ill., Alex X. Mooney, R-W.Va., Rick Crawford, R-Ark., Kevin Hern, R-Okla., Ross Spano, R-Fla., Gregory F. Murphy, M.D, R-N.C., Steve King, R-Iowa, Robert B. Alderholt, R-Ala., Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., Bill Posey, R-Fla., Neal P. Dunn, M.D., R-Fla., Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, Ben Cline, R-Va., Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn., Robert E. Latta, R-Ohio, John H. Rutherford, R-Fla., Mike Bost, R-Ill., Greg Pence, R-Ind., Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., Mike Kelly, R-Pa., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Tim Walberg, R-Mich., Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., Fred Keller, R-Pa., Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., Ron Wright, R-Texas, Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Michael Cloud, R-Texas, David Rouzer, R-N.C., Steven M. Palazzo, R-Miss., and Bill Johnson, R-Ohio.
See the full text of the letter here and below:
Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for your bold efforts to protect the sanctity of human life. We sincerely appreciate your letter to Speaker Pelosi promising to veto any spending bill that would undermine current federal pro-life policies, including those that protect taxpayer dollars from funding “embryo-destructive research.” We are also particularly grateful for your efforts to protect life in federally funded research by limiting the use of fetal tissue obtained from unborn children killed by abortion. We write today to urge you to issue an Executive Order to end taxpayer funding of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research and to redirect these scarce federal research dollars toward alternatives that make a real difference for patients.
We are dismayed that in spite of the strong pro-life stance of your Administration, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has not only continued but accelerated the Obama-era policy of funding research that involves the destruction of young human embryos. In fact, since you took office in 2017, NIH has approved 106 new hESC lines at the expense of taxpayers, including the 70 new lines approved by NIH Director Francis Collins on May 29, 2020, which brought the total number of approved hESC lines to 484. The Administration has spent between $250 to $300 million taxpayer dollars each year on this life-destroying research, surpassing the Obama Administration by tens of millions of dollars. NIH estimates that it will spend another $321 million on hESC research in Fiscal Year 2020. These expenditures incentivize the continued destruction of human life and leave a moral blot on the NIH. We believe pro-life Americans would be deeply troubled to learn of the extent of NIH’s practices and ongoing plans.
These expenditures for hESC research are not only unethical, but also inconsistent with longstanding law protecting human embryos. The Dickey-Wicker Amendment, first adopted in 1996, prohibits federal funds from being used to support “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for research on fetuses in utero” (sec. 508 of Division A of Public Law 116-94, December 20, 2019). This longstanding amendment has been included in annual appropriations for nearly 25 years. NIH has employed fallacious reasoning in attempts to skirt these protections, but its expenditures remain inconsistent with federal law.
It is noteworthy that the destruction of human embryos has not yielded the miraculous benefits that advocates promised two decades ago. After more than $2 billion in federal taxpayer funding — and much more than that in state funding — there has yet to be proof of a single patient’s life being saved through embryonic stem cell treatments. At the same time, adult stem cells have treated more than one and a half million patients, and recent scientific advances promise even more benefits from the use of adult stem cells. It is therefore in the interest of all taxpayers to redirect federal monies away from hESC research and toward efforts that bring real benefits to patients.
For these reasons, we urge you to issue an Executive Order to end taxpayer funding for hESC research and revoke former President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13505 of March 9, 2009, which removed limitations on such funding. Ending federal support for hESC research would not reduce NIH’s lifesaving research by one dollar, but would instead free up scarce resources for NIH to put toward promising research on adult and induced pluripotent stem cells.
Human embryos are young human beings, and human life should never be expended as a mere means of benefiting another. We urge you to bring an end to NIH’s unethical and ineffective hESC research efforts and support research that will respect the sanctity of human life and deliver real benefits for patients.
CC: The Honorable Alex Azar
Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Release from Senator Roger Wicker.