Senate Approves Embryonic Stem Cell Research

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - The Senate Tuesday approved the expansion of federal funding of embryonic stem cell research in a vote of 63 to 37, four votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.

President Bush has already promised to veto the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, (H.R. 810). Pro-life groups strongly oppose the measure.

"President Bush understands that stem cell research using adult stem cells instead of embryonic stem cells has yielded great success in over 70 diseases and conditions," Susan Armacost, legislative director of Wisconsin Right to Life, said in a statement. "There has been not one single cure in humans using embryonic stem cells!" Armacost added.

"The public agrees with President Bush that federal tax dollars should not be used in medical experiments that involve the destruction of human life," Armacost said, adding that despite claims to the contrary, most Americans are opposed to using taxpayer dollars to fund embryonic stem cell research.

"Supporters of H.R. 810 claim that the public is solidly behind the use of human embryos for research," said Armacost. "But in fact, the latest polls show a majority of Americans do not support the use of their tax dollars for embryonic stem cell research."

Embryonic stem cell research supporters were overjoyed at the Senate's approval of the measure.

"In passing the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act today, the U.S. Senate gave great hope to the American people, and secured our nation's leadership in the fields of science and medicine," said Sean Tipton, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR).

Tipton expressed hope that Bush would continue his track record of not using the presidential veto, despite Bush's threat that he would veto the measure.

"We look forward to President Bush continuing his Administration's proven track record of no vetoes by signing this bill into law as soon as possible so that our nation's scientists and other experts in the field can do the good work they do best," Tipton said.

Tipton thanked the bill's Democratic supporters as well as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) "for his thoughtful and skillful legislative leadership in this effort, and his passion for our common cause."

"More than 100 million Americans suffer from cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and other debilitating diseases and disorders for which embryonic stem cell research holds great promise in finding new treatments and cures," Tipton said.

"Those individuals, along with their families, friends, and caregivers, will remember with gratitude this important day, as well as the Senators who voted 'yea' on this historic legislation," concluded Tipton.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also applauded the passage of H.R. 810, saying, "Today is a day of hope for millions of Americans."

"Despite so many delays, and through the persistence of Democrats, the Senate has finally taken an important step forward on stem cell research. Finally, thanks to Democrats, this Senate has worked on an issue of critical importance to the American people," said Reid.

"The President should listen to Nancy Reagan, Michael J. Fox, and to the millions of Americans who support this critical legislation," said Reid.

"America has waited too long as this president put political ideology ahead of sound science. I hope Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Frist, who say they support embryonic stem cell research, will tell the president to sign it," Reid said.

Meanwhile, the Senate unanimously approved S. 3504, the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act, or the so-called "fetal farming" bill, that would ban the growing and aborting of fetuses for research, and a less controversial stem cell bill, which would encourage the use of other stem cells, besides embryonic, for research to treat and cure diseases.

Concerned Women for America commended the Senate for passing a ban on "fetal farming" but said it was disappointed by the passage of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, (H.R. 810 and S. 471).

"Too many senators have bought into and spread outrageous myths on embryonic stem cells, at times sounding like snake oil salesmen," said Wendy Wright, CWA's president.

"Cannibalizing embryos as if they were 'fountains of youth,' sacrificing small humans to advance science, exploiting desperate patients for political purposes - and forcing us to pay for it - degrades all of us," said Wright.

"We long to see relief from suffering, but proponents of embryo research have placed a deceptive choice before us - destroying small humans and tearing down ethical agreements on human experimentation in exchange for mere hypothetical treatments, thus-far empty promises," added Wright.

"Sadly, based on false claims and misplaced hopes, politicians have voted to set aside ethical research guidelines that forbid harming or destroying human beings if that human is young and rich in cells," she said.

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