Senator Will Introduce Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill, Vote Later

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 4, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senator Will Introduce Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bill, Vote Later Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 4
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — A top Democratic senator who has been a leader in attempting to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research will sponsor a new bill soon to do that. However, unlike the House, which has scheduled a vote next week on a similar measure, the Senate bill won’t likely be debated until later in the month or in February.

Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, a pro-abortion Democrat, will sponsor the new bill, which will be similar to one he co-sponsored last year that the Senate approved and President Bush vetoed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has previously said an embryonic stem cell research funding measure would be one of the first bills the Senate debates and aides to Harkin confirmed that in an interview with the Des Moines register.

They indicated the Harkin measure would be one of the first 10 pieces of legislation introduced in the Senate today.

However, the aides indicated the bill may not get a vote for several weeks. Once it does, political observers will be watching to see if it gets the two-thirds vote needed to overcome a second Bush veto.

Last July, the Senate voted 63-37 for the bill but the November elections saw the defeat of a handful of pro-life senators who opposed the measure because the research involves the destruction of human life.

The Senate vote could be complicated by the absence of pro-funding Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota. The senator has been hospitalized after having brain surgery and his recovery will possibly keep him from the Senate floor for votes for several months.

Pro-life organizations like the National Right to Life Committee are urging pro-life advocates to generate phone calls to Congress to urge opposition to the House and Senate bills.

"Please immediately call your representative in the U.S. House, and your two U.S. senators, urging them to oppose federal funding of research that requires the killing of human embryos," the group said in a Thursday alert.

The House plans to vote on its measure, HR 3, on Thursday next week. It is not expected to pass the bill with a two-thirds majority necessary to override a presidential veto.

Embryonic stem cell research involves the destruction of human life and has never helped human patients. It has also had numerous problems in animals when the cells are transplanted.

Scientists working with embryonic stem cell research on animals reconfirmed in October what pro-life advocates have been saying for years about it.

Researcher Steven Goldman and colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center said injecting embryonic stem cells into the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease would cause tumors.

Goldman’s research team has been injecting the controversial cells into rats that have the disease and the cells turned into tumors afterwards.

The scientists explained their findings in an article in the latest issue of Nature Medicine.

They said the embryonic stem cell injections helped some of the rats but some of the cells started growing in a manner that would eventually lead to a tumor.

"The behavioral data validate the utility of the approach. But it also raises a cautionary flag and says we are not ready for prime time yet," Goldman told the Washington Post.