By John-Henry Westen

White House photo by Paul MorseWASHINGTON, February 7, 2007 ( – Newly released figures from the February 5 budget indicate that from 2003 to 2006, the Bush administration spent $122 million on human embryonic stem cell research. Estimates in spending for 2007 and 2008 are $37 million per year.

The $122 million were spent specifically on research with stem cell lines derived from experimentation with live human embryos which resulted in their deaths.

Through the National Institutes of Health, the Bush administration also funded human non-embryonic (adult) stem cell research at higher levels. From 2003-2006, the Bush administration spent $799 million on such research. Non-human (animal) embryonic and non-embryonic stem cell research was also funded in the hundreds of millions.

A few days before the President was to address the January 22nd March for Life, White House spokesman Tony Snow addressed reporters on the subject. Responding to questions about embryonic stem cell research, Snow stressed that President George W. Bush “is the only President in American history who has ever made available for researchers embryonic stem cell lines, which he did back in 2001.”

Snow also pointed out in the press briefing that the media frequently falsely allege that the President made human embryonic stem cell research illegal. “Furthermore, the President has not outlawed, as often as seemed to be alleged—he’s not outlawed embryonic stem cell research,” he said.

The 2001 Bush policy on the matter was a compromise which satisfied neither the pro-life community nor those who demanded funding for research which destroyed human embryos. While he did permit funding for human embryonic stem cell research, that funding was restricted to embryonic stem cell lines already in existence prior to the policy formulation. Public funding would not be available for creation of new embryonic stem cell lines.

Snow responded to one reporter questioning the restriction of funds for ESCR stating: “The President believes that American taxpayers should not have to make the fateful decision of asking themselves, does this (research) come at the price of a human life, when you have non-controversial ways that have shown demonstrated promise that can benefit from federal funding, whereas the others continue to receive plenty of funding.”

The same argument, however, is put forward by pro-life advocates who are critical of President Bush’s, albeit restricted, funding of human embryonic stem cell research.

See the NIH funding sheet updated Feb. 5

See the transcript of the press briefing with Tony Snow Jan 17: