by Steven Ertelt
December 20, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Demonstrating is long-standing commitment to stem cell research involving adult stem cells, President Bush on Tuesday signed a bill that would promote a national program to encourage the use of cord blood stem cells.
Bush signed the bill at a ceremony in the White House’s historic Roosevelt Room.
The measure would provide $79 million in federal funding for the collection and storage of umbilical cord blood. It provides a total of $265 million for life-saving stem cell therapeutic therapy, cord blood and bone marrow treatment. The bill also reauthorizes the national bone marrow transplant system, combining it and the cord blood in the same database.
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, applauded Bush’s signing the bill and said he was disgruntled at the lack of media attention on it.
"[I]t is regrettable how little media attention has been given to adult stem cell treatments," he said. "Typically, our news outlets blur the line between adult stem cell treatments that are working now and those that involve killing embryonic humans to get their stem cells."
The Senate approved the measure last week on a voice vote and the House backed it 431-1 in May.
Congressional approval of the adult stem cell research bill sets up a battle early next year on a measure that would overturn President Bush’s limits on any taxpayer funding of new embryonic stem cell research because it destroys human life. It would also allow the destruction of human embryos at fertility clinics.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has agreed to allow a vote on the controversial measure early next year and pro-life groups will vigorously oppose it. President Bush has already indicated he will veto the bill.
The legislation authorizes $79 million dollars for the collection of cord blood stem cells with the goal of reaching a total inventory of 150,000 units, making matched stem cells available to treat more than 90 percent of patients, with a particular focus on providing genetic diversity.
It also reauthorizes the national bone marrow transplant system at $186 million over the next 5 years and combines both systems — cord blood and bone marrow — under a new program to provide an easy, single access point for information for doctors and patients.
Umbilical cords are a rich, non-controversial source of stem cells. Currently hospitals throw millions of them away each year because the infrastructure required to properly collect and store them is not available.