ing and/or using hES cells has remained unresolved. The tension between this unsettled ethical controversy and the perceived potential of this new area of biomedical research is reflected in the fact that Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama all found it necessary to clarify their differing views on these matters by issuing a series of policy guidelines governing the provision of federal funds for research that involves creating and/or using hES cells.9
It is also important to recall that the controversy over federal funding of research using human embryos or aborted fetuses predates these more recent developments in stem cell research. Embryo research was, for example, the focus of considerable controversy in the mid-1990s, which led to the Dickey-Wicker Amendment of 1995 forbidding the expenditure of federal funds for research that created or harmed human embryos. Indeed, as early as the 1960s, scientists were already experimenting with the use of aborted human fetal tissue in an effort to understand human development (e.g., August et al., 1968; IOM, 1994; NIH, 1994). As a matter of policy, however, no federal funding was available for research using human embryos during the administrations of Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
This moratorium on federally funded research using human fetal tissue was lifted, with certain restrictions, relatively early in the administration of President Clinton.10 Very soon thereafter, however, President Clinton further clarified his views to ensure that federal funds would not be used for research involving the destruction of human embryos.11 After Thomson and colleagues (1998) had demonstrated the possibility of creating and sustaining hES cell lines, the Clinton Administration, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), issued guidelines in 2000 for grants funding hES cell research. No federal funding was to be allowed for the creation of new hES cell lines, and in fact, no grants for research with hES cells were issued before the end of the Clinton administration.12
The administration of George W. Bush took an immediate interest in this controversy, and on August 9, 2001, the president announced that
9See National Institutes of Health Guidelines for Research Using Human Pluripotent Stem Cells (65 Fed. Reg. 51976-51981 ) for the Clinton administration’s policy; Address to the Nation on Stem Cell Research from Crawford, Texas (37 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 1149 [August 9, 2001]) for the Bush administration’s policy; and Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells (74 Fed. Reg. 10667 ), and National Institutes of Health Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research Notice (74 Fed. Reg. 32170 ) for the Obama administration’s policy.
10National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993, Public Law 103-43, 107 Stat. 122 (1993), 42 U.S.C. § 201.
11Statement on the Federal Funding of Research on Human Embryos, 30 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 2459 (December 2, 1994).
12National Institutes of Health Guidelines for Research Using Human Pluripotent Stem Cells (65 Fed. Reg. 51976-51981 ).