Timeline of Stem Cell Debate

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Tuesday, August 9, 2005; 11:31 AM

Nov. 5, 1998: The first stem cells are isolated by scientists at the University of Wisconsin and Johns Hopkins University. Stem cells can develop into any tissue, but the process is controversial because it requires destroying human embryos. Post Story

Aug. 9, 2001: President Bush declares federal funding will go to research only select stem cell lines derived from destroyed embryos left over at fertility clinics. States retain the ability to appropriate money for research or to restrict it. Post Story However, scientists say some of the 64 designated cell lines are fragile. Post Story

Nov. 25, 2001: Scientists in Massachusetts perform the first cloning of human embryos. In a process called therapeutic cloning or somatic cell nuclear transfer, cloned embryonic stem cells could generate replacement tissues that patients' bodies would not reject. Post Story

Nov. 2, 2004: In Proposition 71, Californians vote to spend $3 billion over 10 years on stem cell research, making the state the first to fund such research; 59 percent of the state's voters support the move.

Jan. 11, 2005: New Jersey's governor announces the state will fund a $150 million stem cell research center and promises to champion a ballot initiative to allocate another $230 million.

May 20, 2005: Bush vows to veto any legislation that would ease the restrictions he imposed on stem cell research in 2001. He has not yet used a presidential veto. Post Story

May 24, 2005: The House approves a bill to loosen Bush's restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research by a vote of 238 to 194. In voting in favor of the bill, 50 Republicans break with Bush.  Post Story

May 26, 2005: The bill that matches the one passed by the House is introduced in the Senate with the crucial support of Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah).

May 31, 2005: Connecticut lawmakers earmark $100 million for stem cell research over 10 years in an effort to help its biotech industry compete with California and New Jersey.

July 13, 2005: Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich circumvents the legislature using an executive order to dedicate $10 million for stem cell studies after bills allocating funds for the research were voted down or shelved without a vote. 

July 29, 2005: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) announces his support of an effort to loosen Bush's restrictions on stem cell research, putting him at odds with the Bush administration. Post Story

-- Mary Specht


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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