President Bush Will Not Ease Restrictions on Federal Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research
President Bush does not plan to relax his policy limiting human embryonic stem cell research, despite calls for expanded research by former first lady Nancy Reagan and many House and Senate members, White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said on Monday, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports (AP/Long Island Newsday, 6/15). Bipartisan groups of 58 U.S. senators and 206 House members have sent letters to Bush urging him to loosen restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, which proponents say could lead to treatments or cures for diseases such as cancer, juvenile diabetes and Alzheimer's. Bush's policy, which he announced on Aug. 9, 2001, limits federally funded embryonic stem cell research to cell lines created on or before that date (California Healthline, 6/8). McClellan said, "The president came up with a policy that will allow us to explore the promise of stem cell research, and do so in a way that doesn't cross a certain moral threshold that he set," adding that "we are still at a phase where we are conducting the basic research so that we can better understand the promise of stem cell research. There's a lot we don't know at this point" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 6/15). McClellan also said that Bush "articulated his reasons for arriving at" his current stem cell research policy, adding, "[T]hat is his position, and that remains his position." He added that Bush does not "believe we should be creating life for the sole purpose of destroying life" (Pierce, Washington Times, 6/15). McClellan did not directly answer questions about whether Bush would consider relaxing his stem cell policy if current "basic research" begins to show promise in the development of cures or treatments for diseases, according to the AP/Newsday (AP/Long Island Newsday, 6/15).
Some stem cell research advocates this week are launching a "major" petition drive, calling on doctors, researchers, foundations, universities and patient groups to ask Bush to ease his stem cell research regulations, the Chicago Tribune reports. Dan Perry, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, which is organizing the drive, said, "We won't give up." However, opponents of stem cell research have "remained unmoved in their conviction" that human embryonic stem cell research is "unacceptable ethically" because it "involves the destruction of a potential human life," according to the Tribune. Pia de Solenni, director of life and women's issues for the Family Research Council, said, "We've had more than 20 years of embryonic stem cell research in mice, and we don't have a single cure," adding, "The president has shown his commitment to authentic science and the defense of human life." Political commentators have said that Bush cannot risk alienating conservatives who oppose embryonic stem cell research in this election year, the Tribune reports (Graham, Chicago Tribune, 6/15). WBUR's "The Connection" on Tuesday in the first hour of the program is scheduled to discuss states' efforts to raise money to invest in embryonic stem cell research (Gordon, "The Connection," WBUR, 6/15). The complete segment will be available online in RealPlayer after the broadcast.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.