A bill that would loosen the restrictions on stem cell research and funding was today critisized as being “morally troubling” by the White House.
This legislation, which is set to be debated later Tuesday, would overturn President Bush’s 2001 policy which allowed funding for only 78 embryonic stem cell lines that were in existance as of August 2001.
Sponsored by Delware Republican Mike Castle and Colorado Democrat Diana DeGette, this would allow for government funding of more than just the 78 by including embryonic cells from embryos that would otherwise be discarded by fertility clinics.
It is hoped, advocates say, that stem cell research will bring about breakthroughs in the treatment and prevention of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and some forms of cancer. Proponents also indicate that because the embryos used would be destroyed anyway that there is no abortion issue within this legislation.
Opponents, however, believe that the destruction of an embryo for its stem cells is nothing short of abortion and some claim it could lead to human cloning.
While the Castle-DeGette measure is not expected to garner enough votes to override a presidential veto, it is an important benchmark for changing Bush policies, especially among Republicans who don’t always feel the need to support Bush.
More than 100 new cell lines worldwide have been created since Bush’s 2001 decision, and proponents say those need further study in the search for cures.
Stem cells are cells that have not yet been “assigned” to certain parts of the body. They can transform into many other types of cells, which offers regenerative potential for damaged organs or tissue.