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BUSH balancing beliefs about life as he weighs stem cell decision

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush approaches his pending decision on whether to allow federal funds for embryonic stem cell research with a belief that ``life should not be destroyed to save or make another life,'' his spokesman said Thursday.

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Bush has not yet made up his mind on the question pitting scientists and other research advocates against anti-abortion forces, who are making the fight against this research their top issue.

``This is an issue the president has been focused on, and it's a very important and sensitive matter because it involves many aspects of life. He's well aware of the powerful research that can come from stem cells. He also is cognizant of the fact that life should not be destroyed to save or make another life,'' Fleischer told reporters.

Due to announce a decision next month, the Bush administration is searching for a compromise that would allow the research to go ahead but with caveats.

Federal law bans the use of tax dollars on any research that destroys embryos. The Clinton administration got around that by ruling that it was OK to use the stem cells in federally funded research, as long as private dollars paid for them to be extracted from the embryos.

Two applications that have been submitted to the National Institutes of Health for funding grants are in limbo while Bush decides whether to allow the Clinton policy to stand or how to revise it.

Potential compromises being discussed, an administration official said, include:

_Limiting funds to stem cell lines already created by researchers who used private money.

_Putting the NIH in charge of licensing stem cell lines that would qualify for research funds, as a way of controlling the number in use.

_Tightening consent requirements and protections for parents who created the surplus embryos during fertility treatments.
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