Stem Cell Research

Americans Support Stem Cell Research

Do you favor or oppose expanding federal funding for research using embryonic stem cells?


Source: A Research!America poll of U.S. adults conducted in partnership with Zogby Analytics in January 2015. 

U.S. stem cell policy:

Former President George W. Bush permitted federal funding for embryonic stem (ES) cell research only if the stem cells were obtained from a limited number of previously existing stem cell lines. In 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order expanding the opportunities for federally funded ES cell research by permitting the use of ES cells other than those obtained from the previously designated stem cell lines. However, legislation to protect this expansion in research opportunities has not been signed into law, giving future administrations the discretion to curtail or eliminate federally funded stem cell research.

On August 23, 2012, in a decision favorable to proponents of ES cell research, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court ruling dismissing a lawsuit that challenged the Obama administration’s expansion of federal funding ES cell research.

The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal in an announcement on January 7, 2013. The announcement allows the decision of the appeals court to stand.

Many congressional members in the House and Senate seek to codify the stem cell rules established under President Obama’s executive order, preventing future administrations from unilaterally restricting or eliminating federal funding for stem cell research. Bills such as the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act, which would permit funding for research on stem cells derived from embryos produced but ultimately not used for in vitro fertilization, have been regularly introduced in the House and Senate since 2009, but no legislation has been enacted.

The debate over stem cell research continues to be fought at the state level. In March 2015, the Oklahoma House passed a bill banning all ES cell research.  This legislation is currently awaiting Senate action. The Oklahoma legislature approved a similar bill in 2009, but failed to override the governor’s veto.

Timeline of major events in stem cell policy.

Learn more about the science of stem cells.

Access additional resources about advancing stem cell research.

Learn more about fetal tissue research.

If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana