For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 10, 2001
Delivery at 10
06 A.M. Edt
Saturday, August 11, 2001
Radio Address by the President
to the Nation
Good Morning. This Week I Made a Decision on A
Complex and Difficult Issue, the Federal Role in Embryonic Stem Cell
Research. Based on Preliminary Work, Scientists Believe These Cells, Which
May Have the Ability to Replace Diseased or Defective Human Tissue, Offer
Great Promise. They Could Help Improve the Lives of Those Who Suffer From
Many Terrible Diseases -- From Juvenile Diabetes to Alzheimer's, From
Parkinson's to spinal cord injuries.
While stem cells come from a variety of
sources, most scientists, at least today, believe that research on stem
cells from human embryos offers the most promise because these cells
have the potential to develop into all the tissues of the body.
This research offers great hope for
treatments and possible cures. Research on embryonic stem cells also
raises profound ethical questions because extracting the stem cell
destroys the embryo, and thus destroys the potential for life.
Some argue this small cluster of cells is
not yet a human life because it cannot develop on its
own. Yet an ethicist argued this is the same way you and I
started our lives. One goes with a heavy heart if we use
these, he said, because we are dealing with the seeds of the next
At its core, this issue forces us to
confront fundamental questions about the beginnings of life and the
ends of science. It lies at a difficult moral intersection,
juxtaposing the need to protect life in all its phases with the
prospect of saving and improving life in all its stages. As
the genius of science extends the horizons of what we can do, we
increasingly confront complex problems about what we should do.
In recent weeks we learned that scientists
have created human embryos in test tubes solely to experiment on
them. This is deeply troubling, and a warning sign that
should prompt all of us to think through these issues very
carefully. We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for
spare body parts or creating life for our convenience. I
strongly oppose cloning. And while we must devote enormous
energy to conquering disease, it is equally important that we pay
attention to the moral concerns raised by the new frontier of human
embryo stem cell research. Even the most noble ends do not
justify any means.
Embryonic stem cell research offers both
great promise and great peril. So I have decided we must
proceed with great care. As a result of private research,
more than 60 genetically diverse stem cell lines already
exist. They were created from embryos that have already been
destroyed, and they have the ability to regenerate themselves
indefinitely, creating ongoing opportunities for research. I
have concluded that we should allow federal funds to be used for
research on these existing stem cell lines where the life and death
decision has already been made.
Leading scientists tell me research on
these 60 lines has great promise that could lead to breakthrough
therapies and cures. This allows us to explore the promise
and potential of stem cell research without crossing a fundamental
moral line, by providing taxpayer funding that would sanction or
encourage further destruction of human embryos that have at least the
potential for life.
I also believe that great scientific
progress can be made through aggressive federal funding of research on
umbilical cord, placenta, adult and animal stem cells, which do not
involve the same moral dilemma. This year the government
will spend $250 million on this important research.
As we go forward, I hope we'll always be
guided by both intellect and heart, by both our capabilities and our
conscience. I have made this decision with great care, and I
pray it is the right one.
Thank you for listening.