Bill Would Reverse President Bush, Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 23, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bill Would Reverse President Bush, Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 23, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Taxpayers would be forced to fund embryonic stem cell research that destroys the lives of human beings in their earliest days, under legislation recently introduced in Congress.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Michael Castle of Delaware and Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, is designed to reverse President Bush’s August 2001 decision preventing federal funding of any new embryonic stem cell research.

"Government policy — not scientific limitation — is now holding stem cell research back," DeGette said at a news conference to announce the bill.

Under the legislation, the Department of Health and Human Services would be required to fund the extraction of stem cells derived from "excess" embryos created for fertility treatment purposes.

The process destroys the lives of unborn children and has drawn opposition from pro-life groups. They favor the use of adult stem cells, which have proven more effective in clinical trials. No patients have yet been cured as a result of embryonic stem cell research.

DeGette said that a majority of House members would favor the legislation.

"With the level of bipartisan support that we have, we intend to aggressively pursue [it]," she explained.

Rep. Castle told Reuters he agreed the bill would get the necessary support. "All of a sudden, you have a majority of members of the House who want to get something done," he said.

Castle says he has 69 Republican members of Congress who will support the bill. Just over 20 Democrats and Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors thus far.

In May, 58 Senators and 206 Representatives, representing both parties, signed letters encouraging President Bush to reverse his policy against federal funding.

Texas Representative Tom DeLay, the House Republican leader, said he would do what he could to prevent the Castle-DeGette legislation from passing.

A spokesman for the Bush campaign continued to defend the president’s view and said he would not change his mind.

“The President is committed to expanding our country’s proud record in scientific achievements while upholding the highest standards of ethics," Bush-Cheney ’04 spokeswoman Sharon Castillo told "He believes that we must achieve a balance between medical research and the ability to build a culture of life and respect for human dignity."

A similar bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate, like by Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) or Diane Feinstein (D-CA). Specter led the effort to gather signatures of senators for the letter lobbying Bush.

However, Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican who has been lobbying for a ban on all forms of human cloning, said he would take whatever steps are necessary to keep the anti-funding policy in place.

That could include a filibuster, which would require senators to find 60 votes in favor of ending debate.

Related web sites:
Members who signed the letter to Bush –
Do No Harm –