It is never an easy task to do science with human subjects, and I do not suggest that it should be. It is even harder to do science with unborn human subjects and, again, this is not legitimate cause for complaint. But it is occasion for complaint—and for remedial action—when science is hampered by public policy that is ambiguous quixotic, or even confused. And that is the case with research on unborn humans.

In 1978 the theft Secretary of Health, Education, and Human Welfare received from the HEW Ethics Advisory Board a report stating that, in the board’s judgment, research on early human developmental stages could be conducted ethically under circumstances yet to be specified. The board indicated its willingness to consider particular cases and to make appropriate recommendations However, shortly thereafter reappointments to the board were not made by the secretary, and the board ceased to exist. Because an...

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