A month before the attacks on September 11, President Bush made the first major speech of his presidency
, in which he announced the administration's new policy on federal funding for stem-cell research. The new policy significantly modified (PDF)
) the NIH guidelines (PDF)
) (corrected Nov. 21 (PDF)
)) hammered out by NIH Director Harold Varmus in the waning days of the Clinton Administration and limited the use of federal funds for research on cell lines that had been derived from embryos before the date of the president's speech, August 9, 2001. Since then, many questions have arisen concerning the number, variety, and availability of stem-cell lines, as well as the underlying policy determination that federal funds should not be used to extract stem cells from newly created blastocysts or from frozen embryos that are the result of IVF fertility treatments. Interestingly, these questions do not track traditional Dem/GOP, liberal/conservative, pro-life/pro-choice political lines, with Nancy Reagan and Oren Hatch, among others, emerging as early and consistent supporters of more aggressive federal support for stem-cell research. The President's Council on Bioethics
, which was created after August 9 as a source of advice to the president on such issues, put out a "monitoring report" on stem-cell research
in January 2004, as well as a report on human cloning
(both for reproduction (they recommended a ban) and -- importantly for the stem-cell issue -- for scientific research (they recommended a moratorium, with significant dissent within the Council)) in July 2002.
As reported in today's New York Times
, the question of the federal government's funding policies is emerging as an issue in Campaign 2004. Stay tuned . . .