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Obama may defund embryo adoption program

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
WASHINGTON (BP) -- The Obama administration's effort to defund the federal government's only program promoting embryo adoption further demonstrates its abortion mindset, say pro-life advocates.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is not seeking funding for the Embryo Adoption Awareness Campaign in the 2013 fiscal year, The Washington Times reported March 4. The program is designed to inform Americans that frozen embryos created by in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be available for adoption by those who are infertile.

Embryo adoption allows couples -- most of them infertile -- to adopt embryos left over from IVF treatments. The biological parents must offer consent for their embryos to be used. Without adoption, the estimated 625,000 embryos in frozen storage in this country can face death by being discarded or by being donated for lethal research.

The HHS decision fits with this administration's policies on such issues, pro-lifers said in protest.

"It's indicative of the Obama administration's anti-unborn-citizen attitude that it would remove funding from the embryo adoption program," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). "It's one more example that they are at war with our unborn citizens."

C. Ben Mitchell, professor of moral philosophy at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., described the Obama administration as "ideologically driven. This decision is additional evidence that it may be the most anti-natal administration in history."

In a document submitted to congressional appropriations committees, HHS said it seeks to halt funding of the campaign because "of the limited interest in the program as evidenced by grants being awarded to a very small pool of applicants, many of whom are repeat recipients." The fate of the program rests with Congress, which can restore its funding in the budget.


Embryo adoption awareness still is worth funding, an advocate told The Times.

Ron Stoddart, executive director of Nightlight Christian Adoptions, pointed to the continued increases in embryos placed in storage, in babies born from embryo adoption and in embryo adoption programs.

"So those three factors would clearly indicate to me, and I think, any objective observer, that there's an increasing interest in embryo donation and adoption," Stoddart said.

From 2004 to 2009, about 1,900 children were born in the United States from embryo adoption, the Embryo Donation Services Center reported, according to The Times.

Nightlight, which pioneered embryo adoption about 15 years ago, is expected to have its 300th baby born through its "snowflakes" program March 30, the newspaper reported.

The National Embryo Donation Center, which is located in Knoxville, Tenn., told The Times it has 150 "sets" of stored, frozen embryos awaiting adoption. Each set contains as many as 15 embryos.

The Embryo Adoption Awareness Campaign began under President George W. Bush with nearly $1 million in funding in 2002. The money peaked at $4.2 million in both 2009 and 2010, but only about $2 million was approved in 2011 and 2012.

Mailee Smith, staff counsel for Americans United for Life, asked, "Why would the Obama administration cut $2 million for adoption awareness, but keep $1 million a day for Planned Parenthood?"

Planned Parenthood, the country's leading abortion provider, and its affiliates received $487.4 million in government grants, contracts and reimbursements in 2009-10, the most recent year for which statistics are available.


Smith told The Times, "What people disagree about is the solution for these embryos." If there is no backing for embryo adoption, she said, "what we're seeing is the elimination of the moral solution."

Mitchell, who also is a consultant on biomedical and life issues for the ERLC, issued a warning regarding IVF.

"Christian couples should not allow their doctors to generate 'spare embryos,'" he told Baptist Press. "Human embryos belong in mothers' uteruses, not in clinic freezers."

Obama not only has succeeded in expanding federal funding of abortion while in the White House, but he overturned with a 2009 executive order a Bush ban on money for destructive embryonic stem cell research.

Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook ( and in your email (

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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