President Bush Lobbied to Not Veto Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 14, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Bush Lobbied to Not Veto Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 14, 2006

Washington, DC ( — President Bush continues to be lobbied to not veto a bill the Senate is expected to pass Tuesday that would overturn his limits of using taxpayer money to pay for embryonic stem cell research. However, a White House spokesman confirms the president will make good on his veto threat.

Rep. Michael Castle, a Delaware Republican who was one of the leading sponsors of the embryonic stem cell research funding bill in the House, wrote a letter to the president on Thursday asking Bush to reconsider his plan to veto the bill.

Castle wrote that when embryos are discarded from fertility clinics, the "’life and death’ decision has been made," so "[w]hy not use the stem cells we can derive from these embryos, which will never become life, to help the millions of people suffering across the United States?"

However, White House spokesperson Ken Lisaius said Bush’s veto threat "still applies."

The White House on Thursday "emphatically" reiterated that Bush will veto the bill if the Senate approves it.

According to a Congressional Quarterly report, Lisaius wrote in an email that "The legislation crosses an important moral line and if presented with the legislation — the president would veto" it.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told The Hotline that he’s not sure if there would be enough votes in the Senate to override a likely Bush veto.

"I think we don’t know at this juncture," he said.

Top Bush advisor Karl Rove said Tuesday a veto is certain.

Speaking to the editorial board of the Denver Post newspaper, Rove said, "The president is emphatic about this [issue.]"

Rove indicated he thinks the Senate will approve the funding bill with more than 60 votes "and as a result the president would, as he has previously said emphatically, veto the Castle bill."

"We were all an embryo at one point, and we ought to as a society be very careful about being callous about the wanton destruction of embryos, of life," Rove said, according to the Post. He said research shows "we have far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells."

President Bush has limited federal funding of embryonic stem cell research to only those cells that were obtained prior to August 2001, when he announced his policy.

Bush has prohibited funds for new embryonic stem cell research but has spent hundreds of millions of dollars annually on adult stem cell research, which has yielded dozens of treatments for various diseases and conditions.

Should Bush veto the bill it would be his first veto in either of his terms in office.

A veto is good news for pro-life advocates because Congress would need a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override it. While the Senate may be able to come up with the 67 votes necessary to do that, the House is nowhere close to a veto override majority.

The Senate on Monday is scheduled to begin debate and vote on three bills, including the funding measure, which pro-life groups oppose, and two bills pro-life advocates support. Those include a ban on "fetal farming" and a measure instructing the federal government to find alternative ways of obtaining embryonic stem cells that don’t involve the destruction of human life.

Votes on all three bills are expected on Tuesday and each needs 60 votes to be approved.

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