Fifteen years ago this month, President George W. Bush announced he was issuing a moratorium on the future spending of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. He would later refer to this as one of the most consequential “Decision Points” (the title of his autobiography) of his presidency.
While his presidential legacy is much debated, science has already vindicated his decision to end the destruction of embryos and to pursue alternative methods of medical advancement.
A brief science backgrounder: Despite public confusion, stem cells are not embryos; they are the types of cells that can differentiate into one or more of the types of cells of an organism’s body. Because of this, medical researchers have long been eager to use stem cells to allow healthy new cells to replace or repair damaged tissues and as a result, offer great promise for individuals suffering from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, and a range of other conditions.
The debate over stem cells concerns the derivation of them, namely whether or not they require the destruction of human embryos or if they come from elsewhere (such as adult stem cells) and to what extent they may or may not be used for the purposes of regenerative medicine.
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