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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 14, 1999


Last November, the President asked his National Bioethics Advisory Commission to undertake a thorough review of all of the ethical and medical considerations associated with human stem cell research. In the ensuing months, a national dialogue took place highlighting the potential applications of stem cells for treating people with diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, cancer, and spinal cord injury. Ethical issues were also central to this debate, including a wide range of religious and philosophical views that are a part of the fabric of our democratic culture. NBAC has completed its deliberations and appears ready to endorse the medical promise and ethical acceptability of certain types of human stem cell research.

The Clinton Administration recognizes that human stem cell technology's potential medical benefits are compelling and worthy of pursuit, so long as the research is conducted according to the highest ethical standards. NIH is putting in place guidelines and an oversight system that will ensure that the cells are obtained in an ethically sound manner. The President's 1994 ban on the use of Federal funds for the creation of human embryos for research purposes will remain in effect. No other legal actions are necessary at this time, because it appears that human embryonic stem cells will be available from the private sector. Publicly funded research using these cells is permissible under the current Congressional ban on human embryo research.

The President acknowledges the hard work of Chairman Dr. Harold Shapiro and other members of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission in their thoughtful consideration of a complex and sensitive matter.