Senator Plans to Pursue Stem Cell Research Funding Compromise

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 23, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senator Plans to Pursue Stem Cell Research Funding Compromise Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 23
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — A Republican senator from Georgia plans to pursue a compromise on federal taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research that he says should overcome the objections of President Bush and pro-life advocates.

Sen. Johnny Isakson and a University of Georgia professor are hoping to promote a compromise measure that would have the federal government fund embryonic stem cells research without destroying human life.

They say there is no ethical problem with obtaining embryonic stem cells from the thousands of malformed human embryos that are destroyed by fertility clinics every year because they are incapable of surviving in the womb.

"You’re not dealing with a gray area. You’re not dealing with something that could become a fetus. You’re dealing with something that otherwise would be considered waste. It is waste. It’s a byproduct of in vitro fertilization," Isakson told the Cox News Service.

Isakson, who backed Bush’s veto of a measure forcing taxpayers to finance embryonic stem cell research, says he plans to promote his new bill during the next session of Congress.

But it may still run into opposition from pro-life groups.

Mary Boyert, director of the pro-life office of Atlanta’s Roman Catholic archdiocese, told the news service that the Isakson proposal still has problems because the embryos fall "within the definition of a human being."

The Southern Baptist Convention also indicated it would oppose the proposal.

Isakson told Cox that he first proposed the idea during closed-door negotiations this year on the embryonic stem cell research funding bill but he indicated that backers of federal funding moved ahead with their bill instead.

University of Georgia researcher Steve Stice, who works with embryonic stem cells, turned Isakson on to the idea and said that more than half of all fertilized eggs used in fertility clinics will not be successful in a pregnancy and could be used to get stem cells without killing human beings.

"You show pictures of the embryos to the people in the fertility clinic, and ask them what they’d have done with those embryos, and they say they would have disposed of them," he told Cox.

Despite the pursuit of a compromise, pro-life groups will undoubtedly point to the success of adult stem cell research to show that embryonic stem cells are not needed and that they have problems of their own.