Issue: "Year in Review 2004," Jan. 1, 2005

Advocates for the unproven potential of embryonic stem-cell research found allies this year in famous families. After former President Ronald Reagan died of Alzheimer's disease in June, his wife Nancy and son Ron Jr. publicly expressed hope that such research might cure the disease in future generations. But another Reagan son, syndicated talk-show host Michael, begged to differ: "My father, as I do, opposed the creation of human embryos for the sole purpose of using their stem cells as possible medical cures," he wrote.

The entertainment industry scooped up embryonic stem-cell research as its cause célèbre, rallying around actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, and the widow of actor Christopher Reeve, who, before he died in October, had hoped aloud that embryonic stem cells might someday yield a cure for his paralysis.

Collective star power-including an endorsement by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger-lifted to victory California Proposition 71, a $3 billion bond measure to support public funding of embryonic stem-cell research. Though the term human cloning didn't appear in the initiative, the measure funds exactly that. "Prop 71 has turned human beings into commodities, valuable scientific material," said Christian Medical Association president David Stevens of the measure: "That's a very dangerous step."

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