The moratorium on human embryo research coincided with the Republican presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Both administrations opposed abortion, with support from some conservative political and religious groups, based on the view that human life begins when the ovum is fertilized and that the resulting embryo has legal rights to protection similar to those of an infant, child, or adult. In recent years, the Bush administration also effectively opposed fetal tissue research on related grounds, a position reversed early in Bill Clinton's presidency.

Opposition to the NIH panel's recommendations is being voiced by some of the same forces. For example, in a September 19 letter to NIH director Harold Varmus, Rep. Robert Dornan (R-Calif.) and about 30 other members of Congress argued that such research should not be funded by the agency. The U.S. election results earlier this month, in which Republicans gained control of both

houses of...

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