While the US senate is ready to approve a new stem cell research-funding bill late Wednesday, President Bush threatens to veto the bill. While Democrats contend that the majority of the American people support stem-cell research, Republicans who oppose the bill contend that there are more humane ways to conduct the research, without delaying progress. Democrats such as Senator Dianne Feinstien promise to work towards passage of a stem-cell research bill, no matter how long it takes, and contends that such a bill will become law. Those opposing the passage of the bill, most of who are Republicans, are pushing for alternatives that would not require the destruction of embryos. “It would permit research on cells derived from amniotic fluid and placentas and from embryos that have died naturally.” (MSNBC) Another viable alternative is adult stem-cell research, which has shown promise in the last few years.
The passage of such a bill has been a hot political issue since the Bush Presidency began in 2001. “In 2001 Bush decided to cut off federal funding for new embryonic stem cell research, angering scientists and stem cell proponents who argue the research has vast, untapped potential to help patients with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and spinal cord injuries.” (ABC News) However, in the interceding 6 years, the political climate has changed considerably and Democrats believe now is the time to pass such a bill. The Democrats now hold a razor-thin margin in Congress, and Republicans are deeply divided on the issue.
Senators and Presidential candidates such as Senator John McCain in Arizona are in a particular quandary over the new bill. While polls show that most Americans support the passage of such a stem-cell research bill, there is much strength in the anti-stem-cell research camp, which almost entirely favors Republicans. Republicans, especially those who are seeking the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008, have to walk a fine line. “Seeking a political compromise, Sens. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., have proposed a more conservative version of the bill that would encourage stem cell research on only those embryos that have lost the ability to develop into fetuses.” (ABC News) However, it remains to be seen if such a bill has support on the Democratic side, and whether President Bush would sign such a bill. The original bill also has obstacles to overcome as it remains to be seen if such a bill would have the extraordinary support needed to override a Presidential veto. Stem-cell research promises to play a role in the 2008 election if neither bill passes.
Sources: MSNBC, ABC News