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The Stem Cell World Remains Flat

Yesterday was a sad day for millions of Americans as President Bush and 193 Representatives in the House voted against the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, a bill which would allow for the advancement of life-saving embryonic stem cell research. The House vote and presidential veto followed the Tuesday vote where 37 Senators voted against the legislation.

President Bush’s first veto of his presidency thwarts the will of bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate, countless state governors, former First Lady Nancy Reagan and more than 70 percent of the American people.

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act sought to change outdated federal policy to reflect new scientific developments. Under President Bush’s policy, only 21 stem cell lines are eligible for federal research funding and non of them can be used in humans due to contamination by mouse feeder cells. Researchers have since developed techniques to derive uncontaminated and better stem cell lines, which scientists in other countries are already using. The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act would have expanded eligibility for federal funding to research using uncontaminated stem cell lines derived from excess embryos in fertility clinics, allowing American scientists to more readily access to the best research tools available.

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) pleaded with his colleagues and President Bush to support the research, saying, "The conflict which we have on this issue between ideology and science is one which mankind has faced repeatedly in the course of our historical experience. A century from now, people will look back at this debate on stem cell research and wonder how we cannot possibly utilize all of the benefits of science to stop people from dying."

Unfortunately for the millions of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s, ALS, diabetes and countless other diseases that embryonic stem cell research might cure, President Bush, 193 Representatives and 37 Senators want the stem cell world to stay flat.