President Obama Removes Limitations on Stem Cell Research

On Tuesday, President Obama signed Executive Order 13505. This executive order, entitled “Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells,” revoked both the presidential statement of August 9, 2001 and Executive Order 13435.

Executive Order 13435, signed by President Bush on June 20, 2007, only allowed for the use of human stem cell lines “derived without creating a human embryo for research purposes or destroying, discarding, or subjecting to harm a human embryo or fetus.” Though human stem cell lines that were developed from human embryos prior to this executive order were still allowed to be used by researchers, the order effectively shut off funding for research projects that required the development of new embryonic stem cell lines. At the time Executive Order 13435 was enacted, it was thought that there were 64 embryonic stem cell lines available for researchers to use. This number was later changed to 78 available lines, although further inquiries indicated the number of viable embryonic stem cell lines was only 16.

According to Executive Order 13505, the document’s purpose is to “remove these limitations [the presidential statement of August 9, 2001 and Executive Order 13434] on scientific inquiry, to expand NIH support for the exploration of human stem cell research, and in so doing to enhance the contribution of Americas scientists to important new discoveries and new therapies for the benefit of humankind.”

The executive order signed by President Obama lifts the ban on federal funding for responsible scientific research involving embryonic stem cells and increases the amount of stem cell lines eligible for federal funding.

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