On August 9, 2001, President Bush announced he would allow for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, but only on 60 existing germ lines (i.e., self-sustaining colonies of cells derived from destroyed embryos that scientists have already begun to study). Today, only 22 of the original 60 germ lines are viable for research, and this small number of germ lines makes impossible robust research that draws on a broad diversity of genetic material in order to benefit the genetic diversity of the American population. The President stopped short of allowing federal funding for research using stem cells derived from frozen embryos that have not been studied (about 100,000 of which exist at fertility labs across the country). President Bush also created a new President's Council on Bioethics, to monitor the ramifications of these developments.
The Stem Cell Research Advancement Act of 2011 (HR 2376)
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) has introduced the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act of 2011 (HR 2376). The bill would put President Obama's embryonic stem cell research policy into law so that federal funding of this research will not change each time a new president comes into office. The act allows research using stem cells of embryos that: (1) were derived from human embryos donated from in vitro fertilization clinics, were created for the purposes of reproductive treatment, and were in excess of the clinical need of the individuals seeking such treatment; (2) would never be implanted in a woman and would otherwise be discarded; and (3) were obtained with the written informed consent of the individuals seeking reproductive treatment for whom the donated embryos were created. The bill also prevents any federal money from being used for research or conducting human cloning.