The Massachusetts General Hospital Neurological Web Forum collected 13,000 signatures urging President Bush “to support broad public funding of fetal and embryonic stem cell research.” The 750 page petition, which contained personal messages from stem cell research supporters, was sent to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson. All funding for stem cell research has been put on hold until a review of federal guidelines can be completed by a HHS committee.
Research done on stem cells from human embryos, which are extracted from fertility clinics’ unused embryos, has shown the cells have enormous potential to cure debilitating ailments like diabetes, AIDS, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Lou Gherig’s disease. Numerous scientific researchers and organizations have voiced their support for stem cell research, including 80 U.S. Nobel laureates who signed a letter to President Bush urging him not to block federal funding for research on stem cells from human embryos. Twenty-five medical organizations including the American Heart Association and the American Medical Association and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research support stem cell research. U.S. anti-choice activists have fiercely protested against research using cells from aborted fetuses or fertility clinics’ surplus embryosÑembryos that are destined to be destroyed.