George W. Bush has only exercised his right to veto three times since becoming President of the United States. Wednesday was the third of these, and the second time he’s used veto powers in regard to funding for stem cell research. This veto was for a bill that would have provided more federal funding for research using embryonic stem cells, according to the Associated Press on NPR.org.
Spokesman Tony Fratto said, “The president supports and encourages stem cell research, including using embryonic lines, as long as it does not involve creating, harming or destroying embryos…that is an ethical line that should not be crossed.”
While vetoing this bill, President Bush issued an executive order directing the Health and Human Services Department to promote research into “pluripotent” stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells are those that can give rise to any kind of cell in the body, with the exception of those that are required to develop a fetus.
It is not likely that the Democrats have enough votes to override the veto. When Democrats took control of Congress last January, stem cell research was made a priority, and President Bush has accused them, in passing this bill, of reproducing the old measure that he’d previously vetoed. He also stated that this bill would be required to support the destruction of human embryos, for the first time.
According to the National Institution of Health, in 1998 scientists were first able to use embryonic stem cells in research. At that point there was no federal funding for the research, and there still wasn’t until in 2001, on August 9th when President Bush made the announcement that there would only be funding for the use of cells in existence at that point. Therefore, federally funding is still limited to only those cells in use before that announcement was made in the late summer of 2001. However, the research can be funded by states and private organizations.
The National Institution of Health has reported that these embryonic stem cells hold the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues that would treat a vast amount of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injury, heart disease and stroke, among many others.
However, opponents argue that embryonic stem cells might not even be the most promising; they suggest that medical research is making strides in the use of adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and amniotic fluid, those that do not involve the use of embryos.
As reported on Bloomberg.com, Bush stated “Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical, and it is not the only option before us,” and that his “careful approach” would advance science “and at the same time uphold our moral values.”
Bush Vetoes Stem Cell Funding Legislation
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By Holly Rosenkrantz