WASHINGTON (Reuters Health) Jun 12 - The Bush administration is deeply divided over whether to fund experimentation on stem cells from human embryos, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, quoting Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.
As reported by Reuters Health on April 25, Thompson was hoping to have legal and scientific reviews of the funding policy completed by the end of the first week in June.
Thompson told Post reporters and editors that despite the complex and polarized nature of the debate, he was confident a compromise could be reached within the next few weeks. He also said he was prepared to make the final call on the issue if asked to do so by President Bush.
After taking office, Thompson suspended guidelines implemented during the Clinton administration that allowed federally funded scientists to bypass a ban on destroying human embryos to work with the cells. Under those guidelines, so long as the scientists themselves did not create or destroy a human embryo to get the cells, they could use them.
Thompson has said that the Bush administration would decide by summer whether to let such research continue. Bush has said that he supports federal funding of research on stem cells obtained from adults, but some scientists question whether those cells have the same therapeutic potential as embryonic cells.
"Everything is on
the table," the Post quoted Thompson as saying. "I think there is an answer
there that we are all working on that is going to allow research to continue
with some moderations, but one that will be hopefully satisfactory to the
various views that are very polarized at this point."
Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd.