Bush Aides Send Mixed Signals on Stem-Cell Debate

August 14, 2001; Washington, D.C. (AP) - Top aides to President Bush expressed mixed views on Sunday on whether he might eventually consider expanding embryonic stem-cell research beyond the limits he set last week. In separate interviews, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card left open the possibility Bush might at some point allow funding for research beyond the 60-plus stem-cell lines now identified, while Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson ruled it out.

In a politically-charged decision, Bush on Thursday night authorized Federal funding on stem-cell research. But he limited it to roughly 60 existing stem-cell "lines'' created from embryos destroyed in the process, meaning the life-and-death decision on them has already been made.

Card, asked on ABC's "This Week'' Program if the President might provide additional research funds, called the question hypothetical but said: "The president is not closed-minded. He's open-minded. But we think this is the right decision right now, and let's allow the NIH to do its business," he added, meaning the National Institute of Health must issue regulations and create a process for funding the research. "The first Federal finding is unlikely before the beginning of 2002, after the regulations are drawn up and approved," he said.

But on CNN's " Late Edition'' Program, Thompson said: "The president is very strong in his position, that he has indicated that no Federal research dollars will be used for the derivation, the destruction of any future embryos. And I think that that is a moral decision that this President's made; and he's not going to cross that.'' Scientists believe stem cells offer hope for cures to diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.