Stem Cell Research Battle Returns to Congress Following President Bush’s Win

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 4, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Stem Cell Research Battle Returns to Congress Following President Bush’s Win Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 4, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Advocates of using taxpayer dollars to fund embryonic stem cell research had hoped John Kerry would edge out President Bush and make their quest for money much easier.

With the president’s re-election victory, the biotech community will look to Congress to overturn his policy prohibiting funds for new research destroying human life.

In August 2001, President Bush put in place a policy preventing federal funding of any new embryonic stem cell research. Instead, the Bush administration has funded the use of adult stem cells to the tune of $190 million.

Adult stem cells, which come from more ethical sources such as bone marrow and umbilical cord blood, have already produced 140 treatments for diseases and ailments. Research conducted with embryonic stem cells has yet to produce a cure for any patient in more than two decades.

Backers of embryonic stem cell research say they have enough support in Congress for legislation that would reverse Bush’s policy.

Sean Tipton, a spokesman for the Campaign for the Advancement of Medical Research told Reuters, "We heard from a number of Republican members of Congress over the past several months who indicated support for stem cell research but didn’t want to break with their president during a tough election battle."

Tipton said these members of Congress are ready to promote his bill when the new session begins in January.

He added that he hopes President Bush will be more receptive to opening up funding for embryonic research. That seems unlikely given the Bush administration’s tireless advocacy of a complete human cloning ban at the United Nations that would prohibit the use of human cloning to create embryos for research.

While the biotech lobby pushes its human cloning agenda, pro-life lawmakers will look to secure additional support for legislation to ban it.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee says the additional pro-life votes in the Senate produced by Tuesday’s election results will make it easier for a total human cloning ban to pass.

"The group of newly elected pro-life senators will increase the level of Senate support for this legislation," Johnson said, referring to the bill co-sponsored by Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback and Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu (S. 245).

Johnson indicated the total human cloning ban would "continue to face stiff resistance from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and others who wish to use cloning to create what President Bush has aptly called ‘human embryo farms.’"

Polls show the American public favors banning human cloning rather than allowing taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.

An International Communications Research poll from August 13-17 asked, "Should scientists be allowed to use human cloning to create a supply of human embryos to be destroyed in medical research." Some 80% the public said no.

A Wilson Research Strategies poll, also conducted in August, found that 69% believed that all human cloning should be banned, while only 24% believed that cloning should be allowed only to create human embryos for stem cell research.