After fierce lobbying from scientists and celebrities such as Christopher Reeve, as well as by conservatives and religious leaders including the Pope, President Bush last week announced his long-awaited policy on embryonic stem cell research. In a carefully worded compromise, he said he would support work on stem cells that already had been propagated from embryos otherwise fated for disposal in fertility clinics. However, the President said he opposes financing the destruction of additional embryos to create new cell lines.
"I have concluded that we should allow federal funds to be used for research on these existing stem cell lines, where the life-and-death decision has already been made," Bush said in a nationally televised address. More than 60 such cell lines exist, he said. During the speech, Bush also announced the creation of a panel, headed by a bioethicist, to oversee such research.