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Bush vetoes stem cell billcomment (0)

June 28, 2007

President Bush pulled out his veto pen June 20 for just the third time in his presidency, rejecting a bill that would have eased restraints on government-funded embryonic stem cell research.

"Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical, and it is not the only option before us," he said in remarks at the White House.

Embryonic stem cell research has been a source of heated ethical debate because it offers hope for curing numerous chronic diseases, but also involves killing live embryos. Wednesday’s veto was the president’s second on stem cell research legislation.

As an alternative, Bush issued an executive order directing the Health and Human Services Department to explore stem cell research of a different sort — the kind that involves "pluripotent" cells, which can develop into a wide range of human tissues.

The executive order will also rename the "Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry" the "Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Registry."

"I invite policymakers and scientists to come together to solve medical problems without compromising either the high aims of science or the sanctity of human life," he wrote in a message to the Senate when he vetoed the bill.

The president’s veto dealt primarily with who pays for the research, not its legality.

States and private organizations can conduct their own research on embryonic stem cells, but federal funding is limited to cells that existed as of Aug. 9, 2001. (RNS)

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