When I talked to my mother today and she had never heard of the Dickey Amendment, I knew we pro-lifers had a huge problem on our hands. If a woman who has been fighting for pro-life issues for nearly four decades did not know what the Dickey Amendment was, I realized there was a lot of work to do getting the word out about this very important piece of legislation.
Let us start with some history. In 2001, President Bush allowed federal funds to be used for research on human embryonic stem cells. These funds were restricted to research on human embryonic stem cell lines created before August of that year. This executive order order did not outlaw embryonic stem cell research nor eliminate funding altogether. It simply meant that from that point forward no federal tax dollars could not be used to fund the research on stem cell lines created by newly destroyed human embryos.
On Monday, President Obama overturned this restriction. Now our tax money can be used to fund research on cell lines created by ripping open human embryos left-over from infertility treatments. Pro-lifers everywhere sent up a collective groan and then probably thought all was lost in the fight on protecting embryonic life. But, Monday's announcement is only a relatively small battle lost in a much bigger war.
President Obama, like President Bush before him, issued an executive order. This means that a future president could put the restrictions on funding back into place. So, senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) have introduced The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2009 to Congress which would allow for the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research permanently. It would codify the federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research into law.
Now here is where things get tricky. Obama's executive order and The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2009 only allow funding for research on embryonic stem cell lines created from embryos left over from IVF treatments. Federal funds still cannot go to fund research that creates or destroys human embryos thanks to the Dickey Amendment. The Dickey Amendment prohibits federal funds to be used to create or destroy human embryos for research purposes. This Amendment was signed into law by President Clinton. Not even twenty-hours had passed after President Obama lifted the funding restriction, and already lawmakers and scientists were calling for the Dickey Amendment to be overturned. If the Dickey Amendment is overturned our recently unrestricted tax dollars would go to fund embryo farms where human life is created and destroyed as a research tool for scientists. It would also allow the federal government to fund the cloning of human embryos for use in research.
It is important to understand that this fight to protect human embryos is far from over. Please contact your representatives in Congress and President Obama and ask them to uphold the Dickey Amendment. Tell them you do not want your money to fund the creation and destruction of nascent human life.
For those of you who need a push here is the letter I have written:
I am writing as a concerned citizen about the status of the Dickey Amendment. The Dickey Amendment prohibits the use of my tax dollars for funding research that creates and destroys human embryos. In the wake of the new policies on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, I have read statements by lawmakers and scientists alike that call for the Dickey Amendment to be overturned.
If the Dickey Amendment is overturned my recently unrestricted tax dollars could go to fund embryo farms where human life is created and destroyed as a research tool for scientists. It would also allow the federal government to use my money to fund the cloning of human embryos for use in research. This would be unacceptable to me, my family and millions of other Americans who believe human life at all stages needs to be protected.
Please uphold the Dickey Amendment. Please do not allow hard earned American tax-payer dollars go to fund research on the youngest and most vulnerable of our species, human embryos.