Nancy Reagan Letter Promotes Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 16, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Nancy Reagan Letter Promotes Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Bill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 16, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Members of the U.S. Senate who support a bill to use taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research are using a new letter written by former First Lady Nancy Reagan to promote their legislation. The letter calls on the Senate to approve the bill, despite a veto threat from President George W. Bush.

In a statement she provided to Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, Reagan urges the Senate to pass the legislation.

Reagan points out that it has been a year since the House approved its version of the bill and she said "the wait for United States Senate action has been very difficult and hard to comprehend."

The House approved the bill last May, but the Senate has never voted on the measure, which would overturn the president’s limits on spending tax money on the controversial research.

Supporters of the measure have been pressing for a vote for months, but Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been trying to come up with a compromise on how to hold a vote on it as there are several related bills senators want votes on as well.

A Senate aide told the Associated Press that plans to do that are coming together. The aide indicated that a vote on three bills could occur this summer that would include funding embryonic stem cell research, funding research on alternatives, and prohibiting the "farming" of human embryos for scientific studies.

However, should the Senate approve the measure, there is debate about whether it has the votes to overturn a presidential veto. The House, when it voted for the funding bill, did not.

White House spokesman Ken Lisaius indicated the president’s threat to veto the bill still stands, saying "The president’s embryonic stem cell policy serves both science and ethics."

Polls show Americans think adult stem cell research has better promise and oppose using taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell studies.

An October 2005 Virginia Commonwealth University poll found 44 percent of Americans said adult stem cell research shows greater promise while just 14 percent said embryonic stem cell research did.

Meanwhile, a May 2005 poll by International Communications Research, found 52 percent oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research while just 36 percent support it.

In an August 2004 poll conducted by Wilson Research Strategies, 53 percent of respondents said that they opposed “using tax dollars to pay for the kind of stem cell research that requires the killing of human embryos,” while only 38 percent supported it.

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