Pro-Life Groups Protest Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:19pm EDT
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( - Two pro-life groups staged a sit-in outside the California office of the Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday, challenging President Bush to enforce an amendment banning embryonic stem cell research.

Survivors, a national pro-life youth organization, and the Washington, D.C.-based Christian Defense Coalition picketed the HHS office in Santa Ana, Calif., to warn the president and the GOP that it will lose pro-life and pro-family support in the midterm elections if President Bush decides to allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

About 50 to 60 young people attended the protest which began at 11 a.m. Pacific Time, according to Arianna Grumbine, a Survivor spokesperson. When protestors arrived at the HHS office, the doors were locked in anticipation of the protest, she said.

Congress has passed a law banning federal funding for research that involves the destruction of human embryos, but the Clinton administration found a loophole and decided to allow the funding as long as the cells were "harvested" by private groups.

"We as the survivors of abortion holocaust, we are a pro-life youth group, and we take a stand for all human life, because we do believe it's sacred," Grumbine said. "We are not against stem cell research, we are definitely pro-technology, pro-science. We believe in the advancement of all sciences, except for those that destroy human life."

The group filed a complaint with Assistant Inspector General Greg Zarnice, Grumbine said. "And he said he's going to convey our message to Washington, D.C., and we told him that we are going to wait here until we get confirmation that our message has been conveyed to Washington, D.C., and Secretary Thompson," she said.

Dan McCullough, a Survivor spokesman, called the protest was a success.

"The assistant to the inspector came out and he told us that he would do his best to relay our request to Washington, and then he came back out a few hours later about one o'clock and told us that indeed he had," McCullough said. "He also mentioned that we should have something written up that we could formally present to them."

The group put their wishes in writing and had it faxed to Washington. "So we consider our event here today a success," McCullough said.

"It is imperative that Mr. Bush honor the ban on federal funds for embryonic stem cell research," the Rev. Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said in a statement. "This research provides no potential benefit for human embryos involved in the research, but treats them as an inhuman object for the benefit of others, a disposable and gruesome harvest of spare parts."

Mahoney, who also participated in the protest, added, "If Mr. Bush goes forward with funding, he will also alienate his strongest base of support: the pro-life, pro-family movement.

But some pro-life Republicans support stem cell research, saying the ultimate "pro-life" position is one that allows for research into life-saving treatments for diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and diabetes.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), an abortion opponent, recently sent a ten-page letter to the president, saying he has "rarely, if ever observed such genuine excitement for the prospects of future progress than is presented by embryonic stem cell research."

Hatch and other pro-life Republicans including Sens. Connie Mack of Florida, Gordon Smith of Oregon, and Strom Thurmond of South Carolina said they want Bush to "lead the way for this vital research."

President Bush is expected to decide soon whether his administration will allow federal funds to subsidize research involving stem cells from human embryos. He is said to be conferring with people of different viewpoints as he tries to make a difficult -- and politically risky -- decision.
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