Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

House Passes Stem Cell Research Funding Bill

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

House Passes Stem Cell Research Funding Bill

Article excerpt

Rejecting the advice of Catholic leaders and the threat of a veto by President George W. Bush, the House approved legislation May 24 to lift the president's restrictions on federal funding of stem-cell research involving the destruction of human embryos.

But immediately after its 238-194 vote in favor of the Stem-Cell Research Enhancement Act, the House gave nearly unanimous approval to a bill promoting increased stem-cell research using umbilical cord blood, a technique supported by the Catholic bishops.

Bush has vowed to veto the Stem-Cell Research Enhancement Act, which he said crosses "a critical ethical line by creating new incentives for the ongoing destruction of emerging human life." It would be his first veto in more than four years in office.

"The good news is that the House of Representatives voted nearly unanimously to encourage the broader use of cord blood stem cells in research and treatment, an ethical and exceptionally promising field," said Richard M. Doerflinger, deputy director of the bishops' pro-life secretariat.

"The bill to promote killing of human embryos for their stem cells will not become law," he said.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America saw the legislation in a different light. The nation's largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization does not give an embryo outside the womb the full status of personhood and credited both bills as efforts to save human life and ease pain.

"By narrowly tailoring those cells upon which such research may be conducted, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act serves to value' and venerate the sanctity of life and our responsibilities to our fellow man and woman," the union said in a statement.

Doerflinger called the House debate "a David and Goliath story" in a May 25 statement.

"The pro-life movement and its allies in Congress went up against the combined resources of Hollywood celebrities, the research establishment and a wealthy, for-profit biotechnology industry, and fought them to a standstill," he said. …

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