After a long period of intensive political and social debate, the German Parliament (Bundestag) has voted to allow the importation of human embryonic stem cells for use in research.
The Bundestag had a choice of three different options. It could have voted to ban all imports of stem cells and kept the existing law that made the creation of stem cells illegal in Germany, meaning that stem cell research would realistically be impossible. It also had the choice to allow stem cells already created elsewhere to be imported under strict conditions, or to lift the ban on the creation and importation of stem cells in Germany entirely.
A second vote had to be taken when a first vote failed to show an overall majority for any of the positions. In the second round of voting, the second option, favoured by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and described as a 'compromise position', was preferred to the overall ban by 340 votes to 265. The third option received only 106 votes.
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Lawmakers ban stem cell imports in German vote