President Bush Directs Govt. to Find Embryonic Stem Cell Research Alternatives

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 20, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Bush Directs Govt. to Find Embryonic Stem Cell Research Alternatives Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 20, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Some important instructions by the president were lost among yesterday’s hoopla concerning President Bush’s veto of a bill to fund embryonic stem cell research. During his speech concerning his veto, the president directed the federal government to find alternative ways of obtaining embryonic stem cells that don’t involve the destruction of human life.

The instructions came on the heels of the House failing to get a two-thirds vote on a Senate-approved bill that would have instructed the government to find alternatives.

"I’m disappointed that Congress failed to pass another bill that would have promoted good research," the president said. "It would have authorized additional federal funding for promising new research that could produce cells with the abilities of embryonic cells, but without the destruction of human embryos."

The president took members of the House to task who back embryonic stem cell research but voted against the measure to find more methods of obtaining cells without taking human life.

"It makes no sense to say that you’re in favor of finding cures for terrible diseases as quickly as possible, and then block a bill that would authorize funding for promising and ethical stem cell research," the president said.

"At a moment when ethical alternatives are becoming available, we cannot lose the opportunity to conduct research that would give hope to those suffering from terrible diseases, and help move our nation beyond the current controversies over embryonic stem cell research," President Bush added.

Since Congress failed to approve the bill, the president directed two government health leaders to pursue the research. Although the directions didn’t come in the form of a formal executive order, the outcome will be about the same.

"We must pursue this research," President Bush explained. "And so I direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary Leavitt, and the Director of the National Institutes of Health to use all the tools at their disposal to aid the search for stem cell techniques that advance promising medical science in an ethical and morally responsible way."

Bush’s actions drew praise from pro-life groups, who also chastised pro-embryonic stem cell research lawmakers for blocking the alternatives bill.

"House members who blocked the alternatives bill are interested in funding only the type of stem cell research that kills human embryos," National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson told in a statement.

"Any scientists who have ideas for non-embryo-killing alternatives need not apply. And they call us ideologues," he added.

Tom McClusky, vice president of government affairs for the Family Research Council, had a similar sentiment.

"When given an alternative that would not have distracted from their purpose, they (lawmakers) decided to vote against science," McClusky said.