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Clinton Signs Bill Allowing Fetal Tissue Research, Ban on HIV Immigrants

June 11, 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton made good on a campaign pledge by signing a bill that allows fetal tissue research. But he retreated on a promise to lift the ban on HIV-infected immigrants.

In signing a $6 billion medical research bill Thursday, Clinton fulfilled his campaign manifesto, ″Putting People First,″ that said he would lift the ban on federally funded fetal tissue research ″instead of making lifesaving research a political issue″ in the debate over abortion.

One of Clinton’s first acts as president was to issue an executive order following through on that pledge, an action he codified with Thursday’s bill- signing.

But Clinton’s campaign book also promised he would ″stop the cynical politicization of immigration policies″ by lifting the immigration ban on people with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Clinton accepted defeat on that count without putting up much of a fight when Congress added a provision to the medical research bill that continues the ban on HIV-positive immigrants.

The president defended his retreat when reporters questioned him about the immigration ban during Thursday’s bill-signing ceremony.

″That’s the will of the Congress, that’s part of the law,″ he said. ″I don’t think that in any way it undermines the overall importance of this law.″

The HIV virus is one of a handful of infections the government has decided should be grounds for excluding foreigners from entering the country.

Clinton said the nation needs to ″deal with AIDS better for all of our people and for those who are here in our borders who are not citizens. We’ve got all we can do to do that.″

″I think we can benefit people all around the world if we can make progress in dealing with AIDS,″ he said.

Clinton said the legislation ″is on balance a dramatic step forward″ and singled out its provisions to ″put a scientific basis back in our decisions on fetal tissue.″

Overall, the bill authorizes $6 billion for the National Institutes of Health, directing new research money for breast and ovarian cancer, contraception and fertility, osteoporosis and other medical issues.

Similar legislation passed Congress last year but was vetoed by President Bush because of the provision for fetal tissue research.