President Bush Vetoes Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Measure

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 19, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Bush Vetoes Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Measure Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 19, 2006

Washington, DC ( — President Bush vetoed a Congressional bill that would have required taxpayers to pay for embryonic stem cell research. Bush announced the first veto of his presidency in a White House speech in a room filled children who had been adopted by their parents as frozen embryos.

Saying such research should not be funded because it involves the destruction of human life, Bush vetoed the bill.

"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life of the hope of finding medical benefits for others. It crosses a moral boundary that our society needs to respect, so I vetoed it," Bush said.

He said the bill would have crossed a line and "once crossed, we would find it impossible to turn back."

Some 18 families who had adopted frozen embryos — called snowflake babies — attended Bush’s speech Wednesday. The families adopted the embryos that had been leftover from fertility treatments from other couples who didn’t need them.

"Each of these children was still adopted while still an embryo and has been blessed with a chance to grow, to grow up in a loving family. These boys and girls are not spare parts," the president said.

"They remind us of what is lost when embryos are destroyed in the name of research. The remind us that we all begin our lives as a small collection of cells. And they remind us that in our zeal for new treatments and cures, America must never abandon our fundamental morals," Bush said.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said Bush’s veto "is going to make people terribly disappointed.”

But polls show Americans oppose using taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research, which is nowhere close to helping patients.

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.

On Tuesday, the Senate approved the embryonic stem cell research funding measure on a 63-37 vote, four shy of the number needed to override a presidential veto.

The House passed the measure in May 2005 and was 52 votes short of the two-thirds necessary to override, voting 238-194 for the bill then.

However, the House will likely vote to override the veto this afternoon. If it successfully reverses the president, the Senate will vote as well. Otherwise, the Senate will not hold an override vote.

But House leaders expect the chamber to reject the veto override attempt.

"I expect that the House will sustain the president’s veto," pro-life House Majority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said late Tuesday.

Pro-life groups applauded the president’s veto with Family Research Council president saying Bush was "absolutely right" not to sign it into law.

"I welcome the President’s ethical stand against using taxpayers’ money for research that requires the destruction of nascent human life and his strong support for science within an ethical framework," Perkins said in a statement provided to

Wisconsin Right to Life legislative director Susan Armacost said the president understood that adult stem cell research is more moral and effective than embryonic stem cell research.

"President Bush understands that stem cell research using adult stem cells instead of embryonic stem cells has yielded great success in over 70 diseases and conditions," she said.

ACTION: Contact President Bush and thank him for vetoing HR 810, the measure that uses federal taxpayer dollars to pay for embryonic stem cell research. You can contact information at