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Terrorism and the Iraq War defined the presidency of George W. Bush, but in the more tranquil months before 9/11, the president’s early term was defined by a very different issue: Stem cells.
Back in August of 2001, Bush gave what was then naively hailed as possibly one of the defining speeches of his still-nascent presidency.
Issue - Research - Stem - Cells - Embryos
“The issue of research involving stem cells derived from human embryos is increasingly the subject of a national debate and dinner table discussions,” the president said, before announcing that federal funding would be limited to existing stem cell lines.
Long hailed by scientists as the source of possible “miracle cures” to previously debilitating diseases, stem cells stayed in the national conversation in the early 2000s and into the next decade.
Controversy - Abortion - Question - Experts - Stem
The controversy is tied to the abortion question because many experts believed that early stem cells could hold the keys to new discoveries. And those cells, often, come from aborted fetuses.
“Researchers typically take tissue samples from a fetus that has been aborted and grow cells from the tissue in Petri dishes,” CNN explained in 2015. “One concern is that women would have more pregnancies or abortions because they want to donate fetal tissue.”
Kinds - Concerns - Parenthood - Employees - Harvesting
Those kinds of concerns were amplified after Planned Parenthood employees were revealed to be bluntly discussing the harvesting of human organs from aborted fetuses, appearing to view lifeless human beings as nothing but lab experiments.
But while advocates on the right expressed concern and urged caution, many in the research community and the political left scoffed. Fetal tissue, experts declared, was vital to research — and pro-life voices were often dismissed or mocked as opposing science.
Tissue - Choice - Choice - University - North
“Using fetal tissue is not an easy choice, but so far there is no better choice,” insisted University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researcher Lishan Su in a 2015 Scientific American...
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