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Congress sends stem cell research bill to White House despite veto warning

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives Thursday passed the Stem Cell Enhancement Act of 2007 [S.5 materials] 247-176 [roll call], sending it to a recalcitrant President George W. Bush for signature barely two months after its Senate passage [JURIST report]. If signed into law, the bill would amend the Public Health Service Act [text] to allow for additional embryonic stem cell [JURIST news archive] research. In a statement issued [press release] shortly after the bill's adoption in the House, however, Bush expressed disappointment at what he characterized as an "old bill that would simply overturn our country's carefully balanced policy on embryonic stem cell research" and indicated that he would veto it. The House vote occurred mainly along party lines, with 210 Democrats and 37 Republicans supported the measure, while 16 Democrats and 160 Republicans opposed.

Many researchers believe that embryonic stem cell research [NIH backgrounder] should be pursued because it could result in medical advancements that may treat diabetes, central nervous system injuries, and degenerative diseases like Parkinson's disease. Supporters also say that embryos already created for the purposes of in vitro fertilization (IVF) [backgrounder] are generally destroyed or indefinitely stored. Critics say that the embryos are human life and the research violates moral principles. In January, the House voted 253-174 [roll call; JURIST report] to pass an initial version of the bill, but needed to vote again after the Senate voted 63-34 [roll call; JURIST report] to approve a slightly different version. In July of last year, Bush vetoed [JURIST report] the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 [PDF text; HR 810 summary], saying he would not provide federal funding for stem cell research because many consider the destruction of embryos to be murder [press briefing]. AP has more.

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