Fund Research On Stem Cells

In South Korea, they are creating "customized" stem cells with the genetic characteristics of specific patients, thereby lessening the possibility of rejection.

In England, scientists have cloned a human embryo for the purpose of harvesting stem cells for use in research intended to develop cutting edge therapies for a host of debilitating diseases.

California is making a bid to become the new center for biotech research and development in America, holding out a $3 billion pot of funding for stem cell research that may lure scientists from across the nation. Massachusetts just approved a stem cell research program over the veto of the governor.

But in Washington, President George W. Bush is threatening his first veto in an ultimately futile attempt to stop medical science in its tracks.

Bush recently told Congress that he would veto a bill that would overturn his previously imposed ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Bush says he opposes federal funding "to promote science which destroys life in order to save life." Nonetheless, the bill has cleared the House by a 238-194 vote and is awaiting Senate consideration.

Left unsaid by Bush is that the embryos scientists might obtain for research come from fertility clinics that would otherwise discard them as a matter of course -- they would be "destroyed," in other words.

Neither will Bush's veto on funding embryonic stem cell research stop South Korea, England, or even California, from moving ahead with their own initiatives. It will, however, help assure that the federal government surrenders its role as the world's leading sponsor of scientific and medical research. It will also contribute to a national "brain drain," as talented scientists and promising young researchers are tempted to go elsewhere to do breakthrough work.