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House passes stem cell research bill as presidential veto promised

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] passed HR 3 [resolution summary] Thursday, which would amend the Public Health Service Act [text] to allow for additional embryonic stem cell [JURIST news archive] research. In a press release [text, PDF] issued after passage, the White House characterized embryonic stem cells as human life, and promised to veto the bill. President Bush’s first veto in office came this past summer, when he vetoed another embryonic stem cell research bill [JURIST report]. Bill supporters had hoped that midterm elections would make the bill veto-proof, but Thursday’s 253-174 vote [roll call] is still short of the required two-thirds majority.

In 2001, Bush limited federal funding for research [press release] on embryonic stem cells to the then existing lines, of which only 21 remain viable. Researchers say that many of these lines are contaminated, and are not very useful, while research from 300 newer lines that were obtained from unused embryos destined to be thrown away from fertility clinics show far more promise. AP has more.

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