(CNSNews.com) - President Bush's decision to allow federal funding of stem cell research that involves existing lines of the reproductive cells has resulted in a split decision among some of the nation's largest and most influential pro-life groups.
"We are delighted that President Bush' decision prevents the federal government from becoming a party to any further killing of human embryos for medical experimentation," said Laura Echevarria, director of media relations for the National Right to Life Committee.
Echevarria said that demand for adoptive embryos exceeds the supply, and the group was optimistic that "instead of destroying human embryos through medical research, they may be adopted by parents."
Focus on the Family President Dr. James Dobson heaped similar praise on Bush, saying in a statement that the president had "courageously upheld his promise to protect unborn children."
Bush's decision would allow federal funding for research on stem cell lines that have already been created through the use of embryonic stem cells, and Dobson said while "we grieve for the lives of these embryos... we are delighted that the government will not take part in killing any more."
Stem cells are those human cells that have the capacity to develop into one or more types of body tissue, and are considered to have the potential to revolutionize medicine and the treatment of disease. Stem cells are available through a variety of means, including adults, placentas, umbilical cords and human embryos.
But some conservatives argued that Bush betrayed earlier positions in support of life and respect for it. "President Bush's announcement contradicts his past statements calling for the rebuilding of a culture of life," said Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly. "He has embraced the cause of science in a way that disrespects life in its earliest stages."
Schlafly noted that while stem cells from adult tissue and post-delivery umbilical cords "have successfully treated tumors, cancer and other diseases," the results of embryonic stem cell research have been less fruitful.
"Embryonic stem cells have yet to provide a single benefit to a human patient," said Schlafly.
Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher shared Schlafly's perspective and stated "Pandora's box is now open."
"Federal money will create a market for the development of more stem cell lines, overseas if not here at home," said Mosher. "To pursue scientific advance without concern for the dignity of the human person will dehumanize us all."