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Thread: Senate to debate adding embryo donation to stem cell policy

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Jeremy's Avatar
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    Jul 2001

    Senate to debate adding embryo donation to stem cell policy

    Published Thursday, November 1, 2001

    Senate to debate adding embryo donation to stem cell policy
    By JANELLE CARTER / Associated Press Writer

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senators are battling over a proposal that would bend President Bush' s policy on stem cell research to allow couples to donate unused embryos from fertility clinics.

    The White House is recommending a veto if the language stands.

    Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., an abortion opponent, said he rejects the idea because " it goes further than the president' s position." Brownback said he plans to offer three amendments to a spending bill Thursday to counter the proposal.

    " Once language gets into an appropriations bill, it tends to stay there year after year, " he said.

    President Bush in August issued a long-awaited policy that restricts stem cell research to the 64 stem cell lines administration officials said already exist.

    The stem cell language was inserted by Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter into a bill to finance operations of the Labor and Health and Human Services departments. It would allow stem cell research using embryos that would otherwise be destroyed, if permission is granted by the people whose fertility treatments created the embryos.

    Bush had hoped to stay out of the embryo debate, offering a middle-of-the-road solution to an issue that had ignited both sides of the abortion debate.

    For years, the Clinton administration had said that as long as private dollars paid for the extraction of the stem cells, federal money could be used for research.

    Abortion opponents have long worried that embryos are destroyed for stem cell research. Others have said the embryos were going to be destroyed anyway and could be used for important research.

    Scientists hope to use stem cells -- which can grow into any type of human tissue -- to treat Parkinson' s, Alzheimer' s and other diseases.

    The Democratic-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to include the Specter language.

    The White House issued a statement Tuesday saying it was concerned Specter' s proposal " would signal a weakening of the federal government' s commitment" to protecting embryos.

    The statement said Bush' s senior advisers would recommend he veto the bill if it contains the Senate language.

    Brownback plans to offer three amendments that would ban the creation of embryos for research, ban human cloning and prohibit the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos.

    The House in August rejected human cloning as well as the cloning of human cells to find diseases for cures. Brownback is offering the same language to the Senate bill. Opponents have said cloning should at least be allowed for research.

    The Senate debate reignites what had become an intense issue earlier this year. Critics complained at that time that Bush overstated the number of lines, or cell colonies that would prove suitable for use by scientists.

    Specter sought ammunition for that argument at a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing Wednesday morning. Dr. Bert Vogelstein of the National Research Council told Specter, " We will need to develop new stem cell lines in the future." For people with spinal cord injuries, Parkinson' s and other diseases, he said, " the only hope on the horizon is through transplantation of these stem cells."

    Still, Dr. James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin said he has five embryonic stem cell lines and that " a reasonably small number of cell lines can supply the research needs of a large number of investigators."

  2. #2

    The door is cracked

    The stem cell research continues. This is what I had hoped for in August. Bush cracked the door. Now we need to "bend" the language to expand the opportunities.

    Once some research success is proven the door will be kicked wide open.

    Thanks Jeremy.

  3. #3
    The opponents to embryonic stem cells were mentioned, the politicians were mentioned, and the scientists were mentioned. How about the people with disabilities who have more at stake in this issue than any others?


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