Stem Cells and Public Funding: Moral Controversies and Scientific Issues

In his August 9th remarks, President Bush declared that federal funding will be provided for research on pre-existing embryonic stem cell lines but not for harvesting new embryonic cell lines or for research on such lines once they are cultured. He proposed "aggressive federal funding" and "a President's council" to oversee the research. He emphasized the complexity of the moral, ethical, and scientific issues at stake in stem cell research, stating that it raised "fundamental questions about the beginnings of life and the ends of science"(Bush 2001). Perhaps Bush arrived at his "compromise" decision because of the difficulty of resolving a cacophony of conflicting views on stem cell research; in any case, those on either side of the debate are displeased with the decision, seeming to agree only that compromise is inadequate to resolve the issue.