STEM CELL RESEARCH is the rare case of a scientific issue seizing and holding the attention of a large segment of the population. The promised benefits, the moral and ethical controversy between those supporting or opposing it, and the question of government funding combined to make it highly visible in the first years of the 21st century. Embryonic stem cell research has been the subject of state—level référendums and has been a major topic in the debate accompanying presidential, congressional, and state elections in the United States. Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research has been the subject of bills passed in Congress and their subsequent veto by the president.

As with any issue that is to be resolved politically, sides for and against have mobilized ...

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