Stem Cell Bill Vetoed

20 June 2007

Currently, the federal government is not allowed to spend any funds on embryonic stem cell research unless it involves one of the limited lines created before 9:00 PM EDT on August 9, 2001.

Congress recently passed this bill to ease restrictions on federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. It would only open the door to federal funding of embryos that were created in fertility clinics for other reasons, and would be discarded anyway. The House voted 247-176 in favor of the bill (role call here), as did the Senate in a 63-34 vote.

Today, President Bush vetoed the bill. Again. At today's press meeting, Bush repeatedly stated that embryonic stem cell research amounts to the "destruction of human life" and that it "crosses an ethical barrier," even though he also bragged about being the first to fund it and would never dare to treat such research on the same level as murder.

In an attempt to cushion the blow, President Bush cited recent research which indicates that scientists may, at some point in the future, be able to convert skin cells into pluripotent stem cells comparable to the embryonic stem cells currently available. In reality, this only means that the federal government will spend a good amount of money to research how to get something we already have (and which will be either frozen or discarded anyway), thus significantly delaying any potential benefits. It's also worth noting that the researchers President Bush cited here have themselves said: "we're just not there yet, and it's going to take a long time to demonstrate that. Meanwhile, other techniques already work well. So let's get on with it."

EDIT: The Democratic Caucus's Senate Journal comments on the speech here.

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