Senate Will Vote Tuesday on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 12, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Will Vote Tuesday on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 12, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The Senate will vote on Tuesday on a measure that will overturn President Bush’s limits on using taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research. The chamber also plans to vote on two other bills, including measures to prohibit "fetal farming" and another urging the federal government to find more ethical alternatives.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, announced the debate and vote schedule on the Senate floor today.

"The Senate will take up the three stem cell bills on Monday, July 17, and will complete all action by Tuesday, July 18," Frist told lawmakers.

There will be a maximum of twelve hours of debate on the three bills and no amendments to them can be proposed.

Pro-life groups oppose the funding bill because they oppose embryonic stem cell research due to the destruction of human life that is involved in order to obtain the stem cells. They point to adult stem cell research as a more ethical and effective alternative since it has already produced dozens of treatments for various conditions.

However, they support the other two bills dealing with stem cell research and bioethics issues.

One measure would prohibit the practice known as "fetal farming," where human embryos are specifically implanted in a woman’s womb for the sole purpose of killing them days later for their stem cells. The other would call on the National Institutes of Health to look into possible avenues of obtaining embryonic stem cells without destroying human life.

"All senators should be encouraged to vote against H.R. 810, and in favor of the ban on fetus farming (S. 3504) and the ethical-alternatives bill (S. 2754)," the National Right to Life Committee said in a statement obtained.

"Tell your senators that you are in favor of research, but not the kinds of research that require the killing of human embryos," the group encouraged pro-life advocates.

Under the agreement senators adopted to bring up the bills for a debate and vote, the three proposals need 60 votes to pass.

The Senate is expected to have enough votes to approve the funding measure and President Bush has committed to vetoing the bill.

Congress would need a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override it. While the Senate may be able to come up with the votes necessary to do that, the House is nowhere close to a veto override majority.

Polls show Americans oppose using taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research, which is nowhere close to helping patients. Adult stem cells have provided dozens of cures and treatments.

An International Communications Research poll in mid-May finds 48% of Americans oppose federal funding of stem cell research that requires destroying human embryos. Just 39% support such funding and another 12 percent had no position.

The poll also found that Americans favor stem cell research that does not involve the destruction of human life.

The ICR survey found 57% favored funding only the research avenues that do not harm the donor. Just 24% favored funding all stem cell research, including the type that involves destroying human embryos.

Another 11 percent of those polled didn’t want Congress to fund any kind of stem cell research and 7 percent didn’t have an opinion.

The ICR poll has consistently shown Americans oppose using taxpayer funds for embryonic stem cell research over the last two years. At its highest levels in August 2004, only 43 percent wanted federal funds used.

ACTION: Please contact your two senators and urge strong opposition to using taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research. You can find phone and email contact info for any senator at