Obama Overturns Bush-Era Stem Cell Rules

The Obama administration announced today controversial stem cell guidelines that lifted Bush-era restrictions on embryonic research and opened the door for significant expansion in the field.

The new guidelines put forth by the National Institutes of Health allow for scientists to get federal backing if they use stem cells from fertility clinic embryos that would have otherwise been thrown away -- but researchers are not allowed to create human embryos for science.

The decision to hold back on issues such as cloning was a choice made by the administration for political reasons, the Washington Post reported.

"There is broad support for the use of federal funds on cells derived" from embryos that would have been thrown out, acting director of the NIH Raynard Kington told the Post. "There is not similar broad support for using stem cells from other sources."

During the Bush administration, federal research was reserved for a couple dozen embryonic lines. Now, several hundred lines are potentially available -- all of which had been off-limits before, the Post reported.

The final rules will be issued in July.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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