Bioethikos: Bringing Life to Bioethics

Archive for August, 2010


Stem Cell Showdown

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

In a dramatic ruling, a federal district court judge has blocked the Obama administration’s new guidelines on embryonic stem cell research. Judge Royce C. Lamberth issued a temporary injunction on August 23rd to prevent federal funding of embryo-destructive research, this in spite of an executive order by the president to permit this.

Judge Lamberth’s decision should not be surprising, for it is based on clear and unambiguous law. The Dicky-Wicker Amendment, passed in 1996 as part of a federal appropriations bill, has been passed again every year since. This amendment specifically prohibits the use of federal funds for:

(1) the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or (2) research in which a human
embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death . . .

In March of last year, President Obama attempted to reverse long-standing policy from the Bush administration banning federal funding for embryo-destructive research through the National Institutes of Health.  That decision has paved the way for billions of dollars in proposed embryonic stem cell projects, in spite of the Dicky-Wicker Amendment cited above.

Two researchers, in collaboration with pro-life groups, brought suit in federal district court. Their research on so-called adult stem cells is promising and not ethically controversial. They fear that the Obama guidelines may de-fund their work. In his ruling Judge Lamberth acknowledged that the researchers had standing to bring their suit forward, and granted the injunction.

The Obama administration is appealing the ruling. Stay tuned.

New York Times Article

Obama Executive Order of 2009

Ella: Bad News for Women and Families

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 by Dr. Dennis Sullivan

A French drug company has developed a new “morning-after” pill, according to the Washington Post. Marketed under the brand name of ella, proponents have described it as  emergency contraception for up to five days.

Now you may recall that a drug called “Plan B” (levonorgestrel) is already on the market, and is in fact available without a prescription. Many in the pro-life community have expressed concerns that it may interfere with implantation, making it an abortion-causing agent (an abortifacient). This claim is controversial, and not proven either way scientifically.

Here’s the problem: the new drug, ella,  is not related to Plan B at all. It is actually chemically related to the abortion drug RU-486 (mifepristone), so it has a high likelihood of being an abortifacient itself. The FDA is likely to approve the drug for the U.S. market, despite an absence of studies on its possible abortifacient effect.

The Center for Bioethics, along with 19 other American organizations, has signed a letter to the FDA, opposing approval of ella. We have joined such groups as Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, the National Right to Life Committee, Americans United for Life, and Life Issues Institute. You can read the letter here.