Senate Passes Embryonic Stem Cell Bill: Bush Promises 1st Veto

By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2006 ( – The United States’ Senate today passed a bill (HRÂ810)Âpermitting the destruction of human embryos for research purposes. TheÂbill passed 63-37,Âfalling just short of a veto-proof 2/3 majority.

Bush has promised that he would veto the embryonic stem cell bill should it be passed by the Senate—his first veto ever since his election into office. “The simple answer is he thinks murder’s wrong,” said White House spokesman Tony Snow according to MSNBC. “The president is not going to get on the slippery slope of taking something living and making it dead for the purposes of scientific research.”

In an official press release before the bill passedÂthe White House said, “The bill would compel all American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos for the derivation of stem cells, overturning the president’s policy that funds research without promoting such ongoing destruction.”

President Bush forbade federal funding for the destruction of embryos backÂon August 9, 2001, although he permitted the use of embryonic stem cell lines already obtained by then—lines which researches have now dismissed as unusable.

The fight over destroying human life for research purposes drew an impassioned debate over the value of the humanity of the embryo in contrast to the weight of scientific advances. Supporters of HR 810 argued public opinion demands the government fund embryonic experimentation, arguing that these stem cells may become the miracle cure for millions suffering debilitating diseases, even though the evidence indicates otherwise.

“This is a vote that millions of Americans are watching,” said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill. “They can’t understand why America for the last five years has shut down medical research that promises hope.”

In the debate, Sen. Brownback, R-Kan., offered to the SenateÂthree reasons why five-day-old “leftover” embryos are more valuable than any possible benefit of scientific research; he introduced three children born after being adopted from among the “leftover” embryos at in-vitro fertilization clinics.

“It is immoral to destroy the youngest of human lives for research purposes,” Brownback said. “It is an age-old human debate, whether you allow the stronger to take advantage of the weaker. We have already regretted doing it in the past; we will regret this, too.”

However, other Senators insisted that the federal government finance experimentation upon embryos in order to supply the demands for cures despite the evidence of their humanity.

“There has been an upsurge of demand,” said Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y and a possible Democratic contender for the presidential election in 2008. “It has crossed every line we could imagine, certainly partisan lines, ethnic, racial, geographic lines.”

Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., rejected the defense put forward by HR 810’s supporters that the fact of embryos being “discarded” from fertility clinics justified experiments on them to further the goals of scientific researchers. “Just because the budding lives would not survive does not mean that we should ghoulishly conduct experiments on them,” he said. “Who knows how many human embryos we will have to destroy before any tangible progress is made?”

Among the five Senate Republicans considering running for the presidential nomination in 2008, George Allen of Virginia, Sam Brownback of Kansas, and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska opposed the bill, siding with the President. The other two, John McCain of Arizona and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, backed financing embryonic research.

You can make a difference!

Can you donate today?

Share this article