President Bush has approved limited research involving cells from human embryos. Mr. Bush has tried to balance scientific promises of new cures with religious concerns about destroying human life.
After months of consideration, the president chose the most restrictive path to stem cell research, approving the use of existing cells only, not those that could be taken from embryos today.
"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," he said. "Leading scientists tell me research on these 60 lines has great promise that can 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 tax payer funding that would sanction or encourage further destruction of human embryos that at least have the potential for life."
The decision is a compromise between scientists pushing for full research and religious and social conservatives who want a complete ban. Stem cells can develop into any of the body's organs. Researchers could grow new liver cells, for example, to restore the systems of chronically ill patients.