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Gene Ther. 2002 Jun;9(11):674-8.

Embryo and stem cell research in the United States: history and politics.

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Shriver Division, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Waltham, MA 02452, USA.


Stem cell research in the United States is inevitably connected with the politics of abortion. Since 1973, when the Supreme Court Roe v Wade decision legalized abortion, the US government has refused to fund embryo research, including IVF, because Congress feared this would encourage women to have abortions. IVF and infertility research have taken place in an unregulated private sector. Bush's decision allowing federal funds for research on stem cells derived before 9 August 2001 may be the first use of federal finds, though the overall ban on embryo research still stands. This paper examines 30 years of US refusal to fund embryo research, cultural background, religious beliefs as these affect stem cell research, as well as the ethical issues related to creating blastocysts to specifically derive stem cells, and therapeutic cloning.

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