Congressional Bill Would Spend Billions on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 15, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Congressional Bill Would Spend Billions on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 15, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Not content with President Bush’s policy against funding any new embryonic stem cell research, Connecticut Rep. Nancy Johnson is floating a bill that would spend $10 billion on grants to states to conduct stem cell research, including the kind that destroys human life.

The bill would make bonds available to states over the next three years. The cost of the bonds to taxpayers would be about $1-2 billion annually.

Johnson, a Republican, is chair of the House’s health subcommittee, which gives her the power to bring the bill up for a hearing

While her bill would authorize funding for noncontroversial adult stem cell research, it also funds embryonic stem cell research — opposed by pro-life groups because it destroys days-old unborn children.

David Prentice of the Family Research Council told the Hartford Courant newspaper that his group and other pro-life organizations would probably oppose the bill.

"I don’t see where there’s any sort of route the federal government should travel to get this research done," Prentice said.

The National Right to Life Committee would also take a stand against the legislation.

"We are opposed to federal subsidies for research that requires killing human embryos," NRLC legislative director Douglas Johnson told

Larry Goldstein, of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, told the Hartford Courant he finds Johnson’s bill to be "a very intriguing idea," but admitted "I don’t know if you can get past the moral arguments."

Johnson’s bill is one of two that will be pushed this year to require the federal government to pay for stem cell research.

Reps. Michael Castle, a Delaware Republican and Diana L. DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, have filed a bill to overturn President Bush’s stem cell research funding policy and allow taxpayer dollars to be used to pay for embryonic stem cell research.

In August 2001, President Bush prohibited funding new embryonic stem cell research but authorized more than $190 million on studies using adult stem cells, which have already produced treatments for dozens of diseases.

The Castle-DeGette bill would probably be vetoed, which is part of the impetus for the Johnson legislation. She hopes her bill will overcome objections but authorizing funding and allowing states to decide whether to cut off embryonic stem cell funding or not.

Her bill also would not require states to engage in the research and only those which want the bonds would get them.

"[I]t’s urgent that something be done," Johnson told the Hartford paper.

However, Florida congressman Dave Weldon, a doctor who is sponsoring a ban on all forms of human cloning, said, "You cannot even show me a good animal model where embryonic stem cells are successful in treating an animal with a disease."

Weldon says adult stem cells remain the best methods of disease research.