The April 23 release of the National Institutes of Health draft guidelines on stem cell research were met with many supportive statements from scientists, patient advocacy groups, public interest groups, religious figures and others. However, some partisans on both sides of the stem cell debate remain unsatisfied. The comments compiled here are drawn from media reports and organizational websites.
Supportive statements from scientists and disease-specific patient advocacy organizations
Alan Leshner, executive publisher of Science:
groups and scientists have wanted the administration to go further, but
we are happy to have this progress after such a long period of limited
opportunities to pursue this very important line of research.
Richard Hynes, Professor for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
I think it's a big step forward, although there are aspects of stem cell research that will still be outside federal funding.
Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund:
The Administration’s Executive Order on stem cell research restored scientific
decision-making to its rightful place at the NIH. In these guidelines, the NIH
has demonstrated its capacity to formulate a research framework that will
unleash the potential of embryonic stem cell research while maintaining the
highest safety and ethical standards.
Supportive statements from religious leaders with diverse theological commitments and views on reproductive rights
Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland A Church Distributed, Northland, Florida:
I enthusiastically support the NIH's draft guidelines on embryonic stem
cell research. They have hit the right balance by limiting funding to
particular slated-to-be-destroyed IVF cells, yet expanding
significantly the number of diseases that can be addressed by
increasing the number and range of stem cell lines from which we can
learn. These guidelines respect life from beginning to end.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:
As an advocate of a pro-life agenda, I can support the NIH's new draft
guidelines for embryonic stem cell research. They represent a
responsible step forward that respects the value of groundbreaking
medical discoveries and the need to protect life at all stages. By
ensuring that the government funds research only on embryos scheduled
to be discarded, the new regulations embody caution and care that
respect pro-life value.
David Brody, Christian Broadcast Network:
The Obama administration looks like they are playing it more cautious
and safe than some may have thought when it comes to embryonic stem
That won’t particularly thrill everyone in the scientific community but
may be a sigh of relief for some in the faith community.
Faith in Public Life, “a strategy center advancing faith in the public square as a positive and unifying force for justice, compassion and the common good,” has collected additional comments from Evangelical and Catholic leaders.
Supportive statements from organizations and scholars interested in exploring “common ground” on contentious issues
Rachel Laser, Third Way:
The guidelines are both thoughtful and balanced, allowing America to
continue the pursuit of a potentially life-saving avenue of research
and ensuring ethical safeguards are in place.... We applaud President Obama for continuing to advance an agenda that
embraces the shared values of America while promoting responsible
Douglas Kmiec, Professor of Constitutional Law, Pepperdine University:
The President's strong motivation to assist in the treatment of devastating illnesses often associated with life's end is only ennobled by his willingness to be more ethically sensitive to the earliest moments of life.
Provisionally supportive statements from scientists
Sean Morrison, director of the University of
Michigan Center for Stem Cell Biology:
[The guidelines are] a reasonable compromise based on where the science
stands now. We may need to revisit some of
the details down the road depending on how the science develops.
Critical statements from religious leaders who oppose reproductive rights
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Embryonic stem cell research treats innocent human beings as mere sources of body parts, as commodities for our use…. Even if, like the embryos targeted by the NIH policy, an embryo may be at risk of being abandoned by his or her parents in a fertility clinic, that does not give researchers or the government a right to kill that human being – much less a right to make the rest of us subsidize that destructive agenda.
National Right to Life Committee:
The Obama Administration today slides further down the slippery slope of exploiting non-consenting members of the human species – human embryos. Some may characterize the guidelines issued today as narrowly crafted, since NIH will not initially fund research involving human embryos who were created specifically to be used in research. This seeming restraint is part of an incremental strategy intended to desensitize the public to the concept of killing human embryos for research purposes.
Critical statements from scientists and disease-specific patient advocacy organizations
Researcher and biotech executive Irving Weissman:
of facts, the NIH placed its own version of ethics in place of the
president's clear proclamation.... [T]his suggested ban on federal
funding of SCNT-derived human embryonic stem cell lines is against our
policies and against President Obama's March 9 comments. The NIH has
not served its president well.
Susan Solomon, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, New York Stem Cell Foundation [PDF]:
The draft guidelines…deny…funding for human embryonic stem cell lines specifically created for research purposes. The proposed guidelines limit some very promising avenues of current research, including the creation of disease and patient specific human embryonic stem cell lines.