Ethics Board (BEB) was authorized through September 30, 1988, to be composed of six Senators and six Representatives (equally divided between the two major parties) (P.L. 99-158). The BEB was responsible for appointing a 14-member Biomedical Ethics Advisory Committee (BEAC) made up of experts from law, medicine, research, and ethics, as well as members of the general public. The BEAC was instructed to begin its work by studying three topics: human genetic engineering, fetal research, and food and fluids for dying patients (see Appendix A for a further description of the BEAC).
From the outset, politics-especially the sharp division in Congress over the abortion issue-complicated the operation of the BEB and the BEAC. It took nearly a year to choose the 12-member BEB and another 30 months of internal wrangling before BEB members could agree on 14 people for the BEAC; one of the 14 died before the BEAC could even hold its first meeting. Congress passed a two-year extension and an appropriation for FY 1989, but withheld authority to meet or to expend funds until the BEB agreed upon a new chair (which with the start of the 101st Congress had shifted from the House back to the Senate) and named a replacement for the BEAC member who had died. The BEB was unable to do so, and the BEAC had no further sessions after its second meeting in February 1989. It issued no reports, its staff departed by the end of FY 1989, and its mandate expired on September 30, 1990.
Among the recommendations of the National Commission was the establishment of a group within DHEW to provide ethical advice regarding proposals that involved particularly sensitive types of research. This recommendation became a part of the department's regulations (45 C.F.R. 46), and in September 1977 Secretary Joseph Califano appointed a 14-member Ethics Advisory Board to review problematic protocols that required special scrutiny under the human subjects regulations (e.g., problematic protocols having to do with more than minimal risk for nonconsenting subjects). The group had a distinguished interdisciplinary membership (see Appendix A for further description of the EAB).
Between 1978 and 1980, the EAB's principal work was to produce a major report on Research Involving Human In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer (May 4, 1979), which came in response to an approved application for NIH support of research that would have used in vitro fertilization (IVF) in basic research. The EAB also conducted two inquiries in response to requests from NIH and the Centers for Disease Control for legislative recommendations that would provide for limited exemptions from the