House Backs Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Bush Veto Coming

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 7, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Backs Funding Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Bush Veto Coming Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 7
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — The House passed a bill that would expand federal policy to require taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research that involves the destruction of human life. Though the House approved the bill 247-176, the vote was well short of the two-thirds necessary to override a veto the president has promised.

Some 210 Democrats and 37 Republicans voted for the bill while 160 Republicans and 16 Demcorats voted against it.

Despite claims by supporters of the bill that public opinion and the views of members of Congress was shifting in their direction, the vote saw an increase in pro-life oppsition to it.

The House approved its own measure earlier this year on a 253-174 — some 32 votes short of a two-thirds to override — and today’s vote expanded that margin to 35.

Pro-life advocates strongly support stem cell research but oppose obtaining embryonic stem cells by killing days-old unborn children.

Rep. Jean Schmidt, an Ohio Republican, summarized the view of the pro-life community.

"Many people believe our tax dollars should not be used when the compromising of human life is involved. Lets use the public tax dollars in ways that do not compromise our human values," she said during the debate.

Heading up the argument by sponsors of the bill, Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat, soundly criticized President Bush for holding up funding of the destructive research.

"President Bush has stubbornly ignored scientists and the wishes of patients," she said and alleged that, "In the 2006 election, embryonic stem cell research became a critical issue" even though pro-life advocates gained votes this time around.

During the debate, Indiana congressman Mike Pence said supporters of the bill were putting forth a false argument.

"There they go again telling the American people that this is a debate between science and ideology — when in fact, destructive embryonic stem cell research is legal in America," he said.

"This debate is just about who pays for it because destructive embryonic stem cell research is legal in all 50 states. They want tens of millions of Americans who believe life begins at conception like I do to pay for it even though they find it morally objectionable," he added.

Several members pointed out the numerous advancements that have been made in the field of adult stem cell research, which, unlike embryonic, is currently helping patients.

But DeGette said, "This should not be used as an excuse to say that it is a substitute for embryonic stem cell research."

Before voting on the embryonic stem cell research funding bill itself, members of the House cast a vote on a motion to send the bill back to committee and to strip the embryonic funding from it.

That language would have been replaced with the text of a bill pro-life advocates back funding research into alternative forms of obtaining embryonic stem cells without the destruction of human life.

The House voted 242-180 against that motion to recommit the bill back to a House panel with 14 Democrats and 166 Republicans voting for it and 211 Democrats and 31 Republicans voting against it.

If Congress is unable to override President Bush’s veto, it will be the second time the president has protected Americans from funding the destruction of human life. That facts is not lost on Richard Doerflinger, who monitors bioethics issues for the pro-life office at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Americans have never "been required to assist in such direct exploitation of vulnerable human life in the past."

"Because the President has promised to veto this bill, and opposition to it in Congress is sufficient to uphold his veto in both House and Senate, we expect that this terrible burden will not be placed on the American people now."

ACTION: Contact your members of Congress and express your opinion on the vote on the bill forcing people to pay for embryonic stem cell research. You can call 202-224-3121 and connect with any legislator or find specific contact information at