White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush will outline his position in his first primetime address to the nation this evening.
“The president has carefully considered the scientific and ethical issues involved,” McClellan told reporters this morning at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, where the president is on a working vacation throughout August.
During the campaign, then-Governor Bush stated he was opposed to federal funding of stem cell research, but has since said the issue is more complicated.
“This is a decision that will have far-reaching implications for our nation 20 to 30 years from now and beyond,” McClellan said today.
The spokesman added the president has been deeply engaged in weighing the issue and has sought the opinions of a variety of people on the issue.
Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, who has stated that he hopes the president will allow the research, commented on the decision this morning.
“I am fairly comfortable with the decision that the president is going to make and I’m very confident that the American people will be as well,” Thompson said on ABC.
Stem cells are extracted from several-day-old embryos usually leftover from fertility treatments. They can then transform themselves into specific cell types, including those in the brain, heart, bones, muscles and skin.
Scientists hope research with stem cells may lead to treatments for diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and heart disease.
The research is controversial, however, because the process of extracting the stem cell destroys the embryo. Several religious and anti-abortion groups, including the Catholic Church, have come out against the research saying it is immoral.