Funding of human stem cell research by the United States
During the fall of 1998, three research groups announced that they had devised methods for obtaining human embryonic stem cells. Human stem cells are characterized by the ability to form many cell types, and the scientific community anticipates that the cells should be useful for the treatment of a wide variety of diseases. The dilemma is that human stem cell methodology can require, at least to some extent, research with human fetal tissue or research involving human embryos. Those opposed to federal funding of the former are concerned that the studies would support the "legitimacy" of abortion, while the latter is seen as prohibited under current law. The National Bioethics Advisory Committee has suggested that the federal government should fund both activities.