Communications Department

Stem Cell Researchers Created Human Embryos to Kill Them; Other Advocates for Embryo-Killing Research Lament the “Bad Timing”

Jul 11, 2001 | 2001 Press Releases

Wednesday, July 11, 2001, 9 a.m.

Here are some comments from today’s papers regarding the report in Fertility & Sterility, the journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, that researchers at the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk, Virginia, recruited paid egg and sperm donors, created 110 human embryos for the intended purpose of killing them to harvest their stem cells, did so, and thereby started three stem-cell cultures. The report comes as the Bush Administration is reviewing a Clinton Administration plan to provide federal funding for research that would use stem cells obtained by killing human embryos obtained from infertility clinics.

The New York Times, July 11, 2001: Douglas Johnson, a spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee who called the experiment ghoulish, said, “Those who have advocated destructive embryonic stem cell research have been assuring people and assuring President Bush that they only want to kill the so-called leftover embryos. This report shows how phony those assurances are.”

Los Angeles Times, July 11, 2001: “This is really ghoulish, a ghoulish exercise they’ve engaged in,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, an anti-abortion group. If Bush approves federal funding for research with “spare” embryos, Johnson said, then scientists in time will demand funding to create embryos for research. “Once the federal government abandons the principle that it will not collaborate in embryo destruction, it has no principled basis for refusing to support these further outrages.”

Los Angeles Times, July 11, 2001: Richard Doerflinger [202-541-3070], an official with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the experiment “shows the slippery slope in action. Once clinics get used to the idea of research on spare embryos, they will become desensitized enough to consider creating embryos solely to be destroyed.”

The New York Times, July 11, 2001: “It is not inappropriate,” said Dr. Michael Soules, an infertility expert at the University of Washington who is the society’s president [the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which represents fertility clinics and publishes Fertility & Sterility]. But he added: “Their timing could not have been worse.”

Los Angeles Times, July 11, 2001: “This is not good timing,” said Dr. Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technologies Inc., a Massachusetts company working with stem cells and related materials. “They’re throwing gasoline on the fire.”