President Bush today vetoed a bill that would have lifted his 2001 limits on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, pushing instead for alternatives that support nondestructive stem-cell research methods.
The bipartisan legislation approved by the House and Senate would have eased the presidents stem-cell research policy and allowed research on stem-cell lines that were discarded by fertility clinics. The Bush administrations current policy permits federal funding only for research using embryonic cell lines created prior to Aug. 9, 2001.
If this legislation became law, it would compel American taxpayersfor the first time in our historyto support deliberate destruction of human embryos, Bush said. As an alternative, he signed an executive order to support ethical research on cells that wouldnt involve creating or destroying embryos, such as extracting cells from amniotic fluid and placentas, according to a White House fact sheet.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a last-minute plea had asked the president to reconsider his veto. The bill acknowledges the important ethical issues at stake, and would enact research guidelines that are stricter than the presidents current policy, Reid said in a written statement.
Proponents of the bill have argued that embryonic stem-cell research would open the door to treatment of a number of diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimers disease and multiple sclerosis. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), one of the original co-sponsors of the vetoed legislation, said he wasn't giving up on embryonic stem-cell research. We will continue to fight for this legislation and do whatever it takes to ensure it becomes law, he said.-- by Jennifer Lubell