(Washington, DC) -- With the stroke of a pen, ,President Obama will end the government's limits on using taxpayer dollars to pay for stem cell research. But, the executive order leaves one big, controversial question up to Congress to decide.
President Obama has made it easier for scientists to request federal dollars to pay for embryonic stem cell research.
He signed an executive order -- lifting the limitations put in place by former President George W. Bush.
Embryonic stem cells are the body's master cells. Scientists believe they can morph into any other cell in the body and could create replacement tissues to treat a variety of diseases like the rare blood disease that ended Henry Strongin-Goldberg's life, when he was just 7-years old.
"It is too late for us, obviously for Henry at this point, but it is not too late for us to stand up and applaud this incredibly wonderful thing," said Henry's mother, Laurie Strongin.
The executive order is a compromise. It will allow researchers to use tax dollars to study more existing stem cell lines. But, it leaves it to Congress to decide whether federal money can be used to create new lines.
Stem cells are harvested from days-old human embryos. Critics argue the research destroys those embryos. And they believe that is the same as destroying human life.
"In terms of scientific advances, I don't think we're going to see anything from this. This is more an ideological move," said Dr. Ravid Prentice of the Family Research Council.
Now that President Obama has signed the order, the National Institutes of Health will have to write new guidelines on stem cell research. So scientists are still months away from seeing federal money start flowing into their projects.
(Joel Brown - CBS News)