WASHINGTON—The start of a report to Congress on fetal research, due next May, is being delayed by differences on abortion among the 12 congressional members of the Biomedical Ethics Board.

Last August the board was able to appoint only the dozen “expert” members to its advisory committee. Their disagreements have prevented their filing the two slots reserved for citizens “who possess no specific expertise” in research, medicine or ethical issues. The advisory committee, whose members serve for four years, will report on ethical issues involving health care delivery, biomedical and behavioral research, protection of human subjects and developments in genetic engineering “which have implications for human genetic engineering.” A second report, on that subject, is due no later than 18 months after all 14 members have been appointed.

The legislation setting up the board requires that committee candidates receive at least eight board members’ votes for appointment to the committee....

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