This week the U.S. Senate will be debating, and then voting on, two different bills related to federal funding of stem cell research. The first bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), would remove the 2001 Bush imposed ban on federal funding for new embryonic stem cell research. If this bill passes the Senate, the White House has already stated that the president will veto it. The White House issued a statement earlier today that said in part,” Unfortunately, the bill then crosses that same ethical line, by proposing to use taxpayer dollars to encourage destruction of nascent human life for research. The Administration believes that research on alternative sources of stem cells is extremely promising and provides robust opportunities to advance science without compelling American taxpayers to participate in ongoing destruction of human embryos.”

The statement continued, “Moreover, private sector support and public funding by several States for this line of research, which will add up to several billion dollars in the coming few years, argue against the notion of any urgent shortfall of research funding. Whatever one’s view of the ethical issues or the state of the research, the future of this field does not require a policy of Federal subsidies that is offensive to the moral principles of millions of Americans.” The White House makes it clear that the president is rejecting this bill because the president feels that embryonic stem cell research is morally wrong.

The administration does support a bill that has been proposed by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA). The Isakson bill encourages research on embryos that are past the time when they are capable of developing into a human being. President Bush supports this bill because, “As I understand it, the Isakson bill would not destroy the embryo”, said White House spokesperson Dana Perino. The roots of this debate are the same as the abortion debate. It is all based one ethical question, is an embryo a human being? The president and those who agree with him, view embryonic stem cell research as a destruction of human life. While supporters of the research see the all the possible cures that stem cell lines could provide. They do not view an embryo as a person.

I side with the supporters of stem cell research. I don’t think that an embryo is a human being. It has the capacity of developing into a human being, but at that stage of development, it should not be legally protected as a human being. I deeply believe that social conservatives have manipulated this issue and tied it to the abortion debate, solely for the political purpose of rallying the troops. I hope our next president is a forward thinking human being, who doesn’t substitute faith for science. How many cures could be delayed, and lives lost, because some individuals want to play politics? The interesting part of this debate is that congressional support for stem cell research cuts across party lines. The Senate may come close to having enough votes to override a presidential veto. Someday, if not this year, then soon, the Bush federal funding ban will be lifted.

White House statement on the Reid stem cell bill

White House Press Briefing

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse blog radio

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