Blogger Supremo, Andrew Sullivan, supports the Bush position on funding embryonic stem cell research using leftover IVF embryos. He notes that the Bush policy is truly neutral, that is, it does not legally prohibit ESCR, but also does not federally fund embryo destruction.
This is true. But Bush is also upholding a pre-existing federal law known as the Dickey Amendment. Indeed, Dickey was the reason President Bill Clinton didn’t federally fund ESCR during the about 2 years he had from their first derivation in humans and the end of his administration. Yes, I know that at the very end of his time in office, Clinton issued an order permitting federal funding after private money destroyed the embryos and derived the stem cell lines. But that was more about tossing Bush a hot political potato than actual policy, otherwise Clinton would have acted sooner. Moreover, the Clinton approach would probably have not passed legal muster since the private destruction would have been undertaken with the expectation that the researchers would then receive federal funds.
It is worth reiterating that this issue has nothing to do with the cloning issue raised by the South Koreans. Human Cloning and ESCR are distinct, although biotech propagandists work overtime to merge the two into the general term “stem cell research.”