White House Lobbies Congress on Stem Cell Research Bills

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 24, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 24, 2005

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The White House released memos on Tuesday in advance of votes on two stem competing stem cell research bills. The statements of policy reiterate the president’s opposition to a bill that uses tax dollars to fund embryonic stem cell research and endorses an alternative bill supporting adult stem cells.

President Bush "strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 810, which would require Federal taxpayer dollars to be used to encourage the ongoing destruction of nascent human life," the memo says.

"The bill would compel all American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos for the derivation of stem cells, overturning the President’s policy that supports research without promoting such ongoing destruction," the memo reads.

The White House statement makes it clear that Bush would veto HR 810 if Congress approves it today.

The memorandum discusses the science of embryonic stem cell research and points out that such research "is at an early stage of basic science, and has never yielded a therapeutic application in humans."

"It is too early to say if a treatment or a cure will develop from embryonic stem cell research," the White House communication said.

Meanwhile, the White House said the president endorses HR 2520, legislation sponsored by Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey and Democrat Rep. Artur Davis of Georgia.

Their bill would promote the use of umbilical-cord-blood stem cells which have been used in the treatment of thousands of patients suffering from more than 60 different diseases, including leukemia, Fanconi anemia, sickle cell disease, and thalassemia.

Researchers also believe cord-blood stem cells may have the capacity to be differentiated into other cell types, making them useful in the exploration of ethical stem cell therapies for regenerative medicine.

"H.R. 2520 would increase the publicly available inventory of cord-blood stem cells by enabling the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to contract with cord-blood banks to assist them in the collection and maintenance of 150,000 cord-blood stem cell units," the memo says.

"The Administration also applauds the bill’s effort to facilitate research into the potential of cord-blood stem cells to advance regenerative medicine in an ethical way," the memo adds.

"The Administration encourages efforts to seek ethical ways to pursue stem cell research, and believes that — with the appropriate combination of responsible policies and innovative scientific techniques – this field of research can advance without violating important ethical boundaries," the White House memo concludes. "H.R. 2520 is an important step in that direction."

Related web sites:

White House memo on HR 810 –
White House memo on HR 2520 – https://www.nrlc.org/killing_embryos/SAPHR2520.html