only research involving minimal risk or for therapeutic purposes would be allowed. Second, it called for the establishment of a Congressional Biomedical Ethics Board, comprised of members of Congress, to appoint and oversee a Biomedical Ethics Advisory Committee (BEAC).


The Congressional Biomedical Ethics Board was established. Concurrently, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, governing fetal tissue research, was revised and submitted for ratification by the states.


In March 1988, Assistant Secretary for Health Robert Windom of the Department of Health and Human Services (formerly DHEW) imposed a moratorium on transplantation research with fetal tissue from induced abortions until an advisory committee could examine the ethical issues involved. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) convened an ad hoc committee, the Human Fetal Tissue Transplantation Research Panel, which issued a report in December 1988. The majority of panel members concluded that fetal tissue transplantation was acceptable and that the moratorium on use of the waiver provision should be lifted. There were a few panel members who, because of their views concerning abortion, disagreed strongly with the majority. This minority view prevailed when, in 1989, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services extended the moratorium.

In 1988, legislation reauthorizing the NIH extended the fetal research moratorium, pending a report by the BEAC. Although scheduled to expire within a week, the BEAC met for the first time in September 1988 and addressed three topics, one of which was fetal research. In 1989, the BEAC became the victim of political disagreement within its governing Congressional Board and expired having issued no reports.


President Clinton signed an executive order (58 FR 7468) lifting the moratorium and charging the National Institutes of Health to develop guidelines for fetal tissue transplantation research and for fetal research.

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