Pushing back against the Democratic-led Congress, US President George Bush vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have eased restraints on US federally funded embryonic stem cell research.
“Our innovative spirit is making possible incredible advances in medicine that can save lives and cure diseases,” the US president told an invited audience in the East Room.
“America is also a nation founded on the principle that all human life is sacred. And our conscience calls us to pursue the possibilities of science in a manner that respects human dignity and upholds our moral values,” he said.
US Democrats, who had made the stem cell legislation a top priority when they took control of the House and Senate in January, were quick to denounce the president’s decision.
“This is just one example of how the president puts ideology before science, politics before the needs of our families, just one more example of how out of touch with reality he and his party have become,” Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, a candidate for the US Democratic presidential nomination, told the Take Back America conference of liberal activists Wednesday.
Sen. Barack Obama, another Democratic presidential hopeful, said Bush was “deferring the hopes of millions of Americans who do not have the time to keep waiting for the cure that may save or extend lives.”
And former Sen. John Edwards, also vying for the US Democratic presidential nomination, said the president “had a simple choice today: direct the full force of American scientific ingenuity towards responsible, life-saving medical research or pander to a narrow segment of his political base.”
“With his veto, he made the wrong choice,” he said in a statement.
To blunt criticism, US Preesident Bush issued an executive order directing the Health and Human Services Department to promote research into cells that — like human embryonic stem cells — also hold the potential of regenerating into different types of cells that might be used to battle disease.
If the measure Bush vetoed would have become law, the White House said it would have compelled taxpayers for the first time in our history — to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos.
Spokesman Tony Snow said George Bush’s executive order encouraged scientists to work with the government to add research on new stem cell lines — that does not involve the creation, harming or destruction of human embryos — to the list of projects eligible for federal funding.
“The president does not believe it’s appropriate to put an end to human life for research purposes,” Mr. Snow said. “That’s a line he will not cross.”
This was the third veto of George Bush’s presidency. His first occurred last year when he rejected legislation to allow funding of additional lines of embryonic stem cells — a measure that passed over the objections of Republicans then in control. The second legislation he vetoed would have set timetables for U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to schedule an override vote, but the date has not been set. Democrats, however, currently do not have enough votes to override George Bush’s veto.
Scientists were first able to conduct research with embryonic stem cells in 1998, the US National Institute of Health says. There were no federal funds for the work until George Bush announced on August 9, 2001, that his administration would make the funds available for lines of cells that already were in existence.
States and private organizations are permitted to fund embryonic stem cell research, but federal support is limited to cells that existed as of August 9, 2001. The latest bill was aimed at lifting that restriction.
The science aside, the issue has weighty political and ethical implications.
Public opinion polls show strong support for the research, and it could return as an issue in the 2008 elections.
Opponents of the latest stem cell measure insisted that the use of embryonic stem cells was the wrong approach on moral grounds — and possibly not even the most promising one scientifically. These opponents, who applaud President George Bush’s veto, cite breakthroughs involving medical research conducted with adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood and amniotic fluid, none of which involves the destruction of a human embryo.
…this post forwarded by a Windsor Humanist (N.Hod) after a June 20, 2007 article on the CNN Website