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President Bush, saying he wanted to "proceed with great care," announced in a national address on August 9 that he would allow federal funding of an existing 60 stem-cell lines but would not permit tax dollars to pay for the destruction of any additional human embryos.

Bush promised in January to review a Clinton administration rule that allowed federal funding for researchers experimenting on embryo cells from fertility clinics. The rule circumvented a 1995 congressional ban on using federal money for biomedical research on embryos outside the womb by allowing researchers to use stem cells extracted by a third party.

Under the rule, a third party could destroy the embryo by taking it apart and preserving the remaining living stem cells for research. Researchers value the cells for their ability to replicate quickly and turn into any kind of human tissue. The cells carry the potential to cure neurological diseases, diabetes, and many other illnesses. But many believe the destruction of a human embryo is the destruction of human life and should not be allowed for any reason.

Pressure on Bush


In Washington, opposing lobbying efforts pitted patient advocates and pharmaceutical and biotech companies against conservative religious organizations and prolife groups.

The Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, the National Right to Life Committee and the Catholic Alliance had all stepped up pressure on Bush, arguing that federal funding would condone the destruction of human lives in the name of medical research.

John and Lucinda Borden brought their sons Mark and Luke, whom they adopted as frozen embryos, before legislators.

"Which of my children would you kill?" John Borden asked. "Which one would you ...

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In the Magazine

September 3, 2001

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