Just as scientists in Australia and Wisconsin are about ready to begin global distribution of embryonic stem cell lines developed under NIH guidelines, the Bush administration has acceded to the demands of anti-abortion groups to impose a freeze on NIH's review of embryonic stem cell grant applications.

The White House has halted the NIH activity pending the outcome of legal and scientific reviews by HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson of the Clinton administration's decision to fund research using the cells. The decision has prompted the stem cell developers and their allies to sue the administration in federal court.