The Jury Talks Back

3/10/2009

Think Bush Stopped Stem Cell Research? WRONG!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 9:25 am

From the Now They Tell Us Department at the NY Times, comes this bit about the history of restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cells.  Congress, not the President, has been blocking the funding, and there is only a slight difference between the Bush and Clinton/Obama policy.

Restrictions on embryonic stem cell research originated with Congress, which, each year since in 1996, has forbidden the use of federal financing for any experiment in which a human embryo is destroyed. This includes the derivation of human stem cell lines from surplus fertility clinic embryos, first achieved by Dr. James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin in 1998.

President Clinton contemplated but never implemented a policy that would have allowed N.I.H.-financed researchers to study human embryonic stem cells derived by others. Research was able to begin only in August 2001, when President Bush, seeking a different way around the Congressional restriction, said researchers could use any lines established before that date.

Critics said the distinction between the Clinton and Bush policies lacked moral significance, given that each was intended to get around the Congressional ban, based on a religious and moral argument. The proposed Clinton policy amounted to: “Stealing is wrong, but it’s O.K. to use stolen property if someone else stole it.” The Bush policy was: “Stealing is wrong, but it’s O.K. to use stolen property if it was stolen before Aug. 9, 2001.”

Mr. Obama has put the proposed Clinton policy into effect, but Congressional restrictions remain. Researchers are still forbidden to use federal financing to derive new human embryonic stem cell lines. They will, however, be allowed to do research on new stem cell lines grown in a privately financed lab.

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