Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Advocates Claim Enough Votes

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 24, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Advocates Claim Enough Votes Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
November 24
, 2006

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Two of the leading embryonic stem cell research advocates in Congress say they think they have enough votes in both the House and Senate to override any second veto President Bush may issue on a bill to force taxpayers to pay for the destructive research.

Congress approved the legislation last year, but President Bush vetoed the bill saying that it’s wrong for the federal government to pay for the destruction of human life for research.

Because of the 2006 election, which saw some pro-life lawmakers defeated and replaced with pro-abortion legislators who favor embryonic stem cell research, some activists say they now have enough votes to override a veto.

"I think we have the votes in the Senate to override a veto, and we may have them in the House. I think we can get there," Sen. Orrin Hatch told the Salt Lake Tribune.

"According to some, we’re only a couple votes short, and I think I know where those votes are," the Republican senator added.

Hatch says he’s been working with members of the Bush administration to try to tinker with the wording of the bill with the hope of getting the president to support it.

However, White House spokesman Blair Jones told the newspaper that the president hasn’t changed his mind on taxpayer funding for embryonic stem cell research and pointed out that only the use of adult stem cells has actually helped patients.

"Those are facts that cannot be denied," she said.

"After careful and thoughtful deliberation with government and outside experts, there was only one moral line that the President said that he would not cross — and that is that federal taxpayer dollars should not be used in the destruction of embryos," Jones added.

Bush vetoed the previous bill in July and the House voted 235-193 in favor of overriding the veto, but the vote was 51 short of the two-thirds necessary to override it. The Senate voted for the bill 63-37, which was four votes short of being able to override a veto.

Others say there are still not enough votes to override a veto.

Robert Klein, who heads the California agency charged with spending billions on embryonic stem cell research and human cloning there, says he thinks there are enough votes to overturn a veto in the Senate, but not the House.

"Based on their known positions, we have a veto-proof Senate. The challenge will be the House, where we need about 35 votes on the Republican side," he said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat who was a leading sponsor of the funding bill in the House, said she has spoken with many of the 41 new Democrats in the chamber.

"To describe them as wildly enthusiastic about this bill would be an understatement," she told the Tribune. "I think the election really sent a message to Washington that the voters want embryonic stem cell research passed."

However, polls show the opposite was true.

A post-election poll conducted by Fox News found that, in the Missouri Senate race, which was dominated by embryonic stem cell research, neither the issue nor ads from actor Michael J. Fox helped Claire McCaskill. In fact, the ads benefited pro-life Sen. Jim Talent, who opposed taxpayer funding of the controversial science.

Fox News asked Missouri voters whether the embryonic stem cell research ad campaign made voters more or less likely to vote for McCaskill, who Fox endorsed in the commercials.

A whopping 71 percent said the ads made "No difference" in their vote.

Only 7 percent said the ads made them more likely to support McCaskill but a larger group of voters, 18 percent, said Fox’s commercials made them less likely to support her.

Of those voters who said it made them less likely to vote for her some 94 percent ended up supporting pro-life Sen. Jim Talent, who opposed embryonic stem cell research funding.

Polls show Americans aren’t clamoring for their tax dollars to pay for the destruction of human life for embryonic stem cell research that has yet to help any patients and may never do so.

A new poll conducted by Newsweek in August showed a decline in the support for taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.

According to the poll, 48 percent of Americans favor funding embryonic stem cell research with taxpayer funds while 40 percent say they don’t.

That eight percent margin is down from an October 2005 Newsweek poll showing a 50-36 percentage split — or a 14 percent margin. That means support for funding embryonic stem cell research with tax dollars is down 6 percent from late last year.

Other polls show lower support for using taxpayer dollars to pay for embryonic stem cell research.

Conducted by International Communications Research in mid-May, a poll found 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 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.

Adult stem cells have already produced 70 cures or treatments for various conditions including various cancers such as breast cancer, lymphomas, leukemia, arthritis, heart damage, Parkinsons, Sickle Cell Anemia and other disorders.