The House voted 247-176 to effectively lift the presidents 2001 ban on federal funding for stem-cell research. The bill, originally sponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) was approved 63-34 by the Senate on April 11, but fell short of the 67 required votes to override a presidential veto. Scientists say that embryonic stem-cell research opens doors to treatment to cancers, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and other diseases, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The administrations current policy permits federal funding only for adult stem-cell research and research using embryonic cell lines created prior to Aug. 9, 2001.
Bush last year effectively vetoed the same bill, but congressional Democrats on the House floor called on the president to change his mind. This legislation doesnt destroy life, it seeks to preserve life, as it would only support research of stem cells taken from embryos discarded by fertility clinics, said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on the floor. But others, such as Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.), a physician, said the bill would effectively be funding the destruction of human life. In addition, there have been no adequate clinical trials on embryonic stem cells, which have been known to cause tumors in animals, Weldon said.
An alternative plan was also approved by the Senate on April 11 that would permit federal funding of scientific research that does not harm embryos, such as deriving cells from amniotic fluid and placentas, and from embryos that have died naturally. -- by Jennifer Lubell