Notes: Wednesday evening George W. Bush announced that he would allow federal funding for stem cell research on 60 existing stem cell lines. This purportedly is a sufficient quantity of stem cells for scientists to determine if the research will lead to any medical breakthroughs. Bush's decision went slightly further than Bill Clinton's had gone toward allowing federal funding for the research. However like Clinton, Bush does not allow any federal funding for the cloning of blastocysts -- three- to four-day old embryos for research which would provide even more stem cells. Scientists believe that diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's could possibly be cured through the use of embryonic stem cells. Catholic leaders and some in the anti-abortion movement condemned Bush's announcement. Yet, many conservative leaders -- some of whom have had illnesses in their families -- applauded Bush's decision.

The distinction between cloning blastocysts has been confused by some with cloning to grow a complete human being. Some opponents of such cloning on television news shows have either not understood that distinction or are intentionally blurring it to sway people against cloning the blastocysts. Several days before Bush's announcement, a fertility doctor, a chemist and a scientist-entrepreneur had said that they will clone a human. Drs. Brigitte Boisselier, Panayiotis Michael Zavos and Severino Antinori -- according to the New York Times -- "vowed to press ahead with separate efforts to create the first cloned human being" in the face of warnings from experts that such cloning would lead to deformed babies and ones that would die shortly after death. 08.12.01