- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Excerpts of President Bush's announcement last night in Crawford, Texas, that he will allow federal funding for research on existing stem cell lines:
The issue of research involving stem cells derived from human embryos is increasingly the subject of a national debate and dinner table discussions. The issue is confronted every day in laboratories as scientists ponder the ethical ramifications of their work. It is agonized over by parents and many couples as they try to have children or to save children already born. The issue is debated within the church, with people of different faiths even many of the same faith coming to different conclusions.
Many people are finding that the more they know about stem cell research, the less certain they are about the right ethical and moral conclusions.
My administration must decide whether to allow federal funds, your tax dollars, to be used for scientific research on stem cells derived from human embryos. …
Based on preliminary work that has been privately funded, scientists believe further research using stem cells offers great promise that could help improve the lives of those who suffer from many terrible diseases, from juvenile diabetes to Alzheimer's, from Parkinson's to spinal cord injuries. And while scientists admit they are not yet certain, they believe stem cells derived from embryos have unique potential.
You should also know that stem cells can be derived from sources other than embryos: from adult cells, from umbilical cords that are discarded after babies are born, from human placentas. …
Scientists further believe that rapid progress in this research will come only with federal funds. Federal dollars help attract the best and brightest scientists. They ensure new discoveries are widely shared at the largest number of research facilities, and that the research is directed toward the greatest public good. …
Research on embryonic stem cells raises profound ethical questions, because extracting the stem cell destroys the embryo and thus destroys its potential for life. …
As I thought through this issue I kept returning to two fundamental questions. First, are these frozen embryos human life and therefore something precious to be protected? And second, if they're going to be destroyed anyway, shouldn't they be used for a greater good, for research that has the potential to save and improve other lives?
I've asked those questions and others of scientists, scholars, bioethicists, religious leaders, doctors, researchers, members of Congress, my Cabinet and my friends. I have read heartfelt letters from many Americans. I have given this issue a great deal of thought, prayer, and considerable reflection, and I have found widespread disagreement.
On the first issue, are these embryos human life? Well, one researcher told me he believes this five-day-old cluster of cells is not an embryo, not yet an individual, but a pre-embryo. He argued that it has the potential for life, but it is not a life because it cannot develop on its own.
An ethicist dismissed that as a callous attempt at rationalization. "Make no mistake," he told me, "that cluster of cells is the same way you and I, and all the rest of us, started our lives. … [W]e are dealing with the seeds of the next generation."
And to the other crucial question — if these are going to be destroyed anyway, why not use them for good purpose? I also found different answers.
Many of these embryos are byproducts of a process that helps create life, and we should allow couples to donate them to science so they can be used for good purpose instead of wasting their potential.
Others will argue there is no such thing as excess life, and the fact that a living being is going to die does not justify experimenting on it or exploiting it as a natural resource.
At its core, this issue forces us to confront fundamental questions about the beginnings of life and the ends of science. …
We have arrived at that "Brave New World" that seemed so distant in 1932 when Aldous Huxley wrote about human beings created in test tubes in what he called a hatchery.
In recent weeks, we learned that scientists have created human embryos in test tubes solely to experiment on them. This is deeply troubling and a warning sign that should prompt all of us to think through these issues very carefully. …
I strongly oppose human cloning, as do most Americans. We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for spare body parts or creating life for our convenience. …
My position on these issues is shaped by deeply held beliefs. I'm a strong supporter of science and technology, and believe they have the potential for incredible good — to improve lives, to save life, to conquer disease. … Nancy Reagan has written me about President Reagan's struggle with Alzheimer's. My own family has confronted the tragedy of childhood leukemia. And like all Americans, I have great hope for cures.
I also believe human life is a sacred gift from our Creator. I worry about a culture that devalues life, and believe as your president I have an important obligation to foster and encourage respect for life in America and throughout the world. …
As a result of private research, more than 60 genetically diverse stem cell lines already exist. They were created from embryos that have already been destroyed, and they have the ability to regenerate themselves indefinitely, creating ongoing opportunities for research.
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.
Leading scientists tell me research on these 60 lines has great promise that could lead to breakthrough therapies and cures. This allows us to explore the promise and potential of stem cell research without crossing a fundamental moral line by providing taxpayer funding that would sanction or encourage further destruction of human embryos that have at least the potential for life.
I also believe that great scientific progress can be made through aggressive federal funding of research on umbilical cord, placenta, adult and animal stem cells, which do not involve the same moral dilemma. This year your government will spend $250 million on this important research.
I will also name a president's council to monitor stem cell research, to recommend appropriate guidelines and regulations and to consider all of the medical and ethical ramifications of biomedical innovation.
This council will consist of leading scientists, doctors, ethicists, lawyers, theologians and others and will be chaired by Dr. Leon Kass, a leading biomedical ethicist from the University of Chicago. …
As we go forward, I hope we will always be guided by both intellect and heart, by both our capabilities and our conscience.
I have made this decision with great care, and I pray it is the right one.

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