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US Senators join push for Bush to change stem cell policy

9 June 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 262

Fifty-eight US Senators, from both political parties and representing a majority of the Senate, have sent a letter to President Bush, urging him to change his policy on embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research. Their action comes only a month after a similar letter to the president was signed by 206 members of the House of Representatives.

On 9 August 2001, the President issued an executive order limiting the availability of federal funds for ES cell research. The order allowed federally-funded scientists to conduct research using ES cell lines already in existence at the time of his announcement, but research that would cause the destruction of any further embryos would not be permitted. Since the 2001 announcement, US scientists have complained that the ES cell lines available are not as good as those produced later, which were created using newer techniques, in particular without the use of mouse 'feeder' cells. In 2001, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) predicted a total number of 78 available stem cell lines, but in March this year it clarified the actual number was somewhere between 15 and 19, and that in the 'best case scenario', only 23 of the named cell lines will ever be viable for federal researchers.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who wrote the latest letter to the president, said that the death of former president Ronald Reagan may help to influence the debate in the US, especially among the more conservative Republicans. This may be particularly true as his widow, Nancy, has been a well-known advocate for ES cell research (see 'Recommends') since Ronald Reagan announced to the nation in 1994 that he had Alzheimer's disease. Senator Diane Feinstein, who signed the letter, said the issue was 'especially poignant given President Reagan's passing', adding: 'Embryonic stem cell research might hold the key to a cure for Alzheimer's and other terrible diseases'.

58 U.S. Senators Send Letter to Bush Asking Him To Relax Embryonic Stem Cell Policy
Kaiser Network |  8 June 2004
Fifty-eight senators ask President Bush to revisit stem cell research policy
Press release: Orrin Hatch |  7 June 2004
Her Home Silent, Nancy Reagan Found a Voice
The New York Times |  7 June 2004
Illness could change stance on stem cell research
The Times |  8 June 2004
26 May 2005 - by BioNews 
The US House of Representatives has approved a bill that would overturn President Bush's current policy on human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. Members of the House voted 238-194 in favour of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which was sponsored by Michael Castle and Dianne DeGette...
23 May 2005 - by BioNews 
In the wake of cloning and embryonic stem (ES) cell news from scientists in South Korea and the UK, a vote on legislation to extend the provisions of state funding for ES cell research in the US is expected in Congress this week. However, President Bush - who announced his disapproval...
16 May 2005 - by BioNews 
According to a recent poll, approximately 57 per cent of Republican voters in the US support human embryonic stem (ES) cell research, while 40 per cent oppose it. The survey, conducted by pollster David Winston, also showed that despite strong approval among republican voters for President Bush (90 per cent...
11 April 2005 - by BioNews 
Several directors of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) publicly announced last week that they do not support President Bush's policy on human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. In a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labour, Health and Human Services and Education, they broke away from 'a...
29 March 2005 - by BioNews 
The US House of Representatives leadership has agreed to allow a floor vote on a bill that would expand federal funding for human embryonic stem (ES) research. The bill would amend the Public Health Service Act, making human ES cells eligible for use in research conducted or supported by government...
17 May 2004 - by BioNews 
The Bush administration has responded to a letter sent from Congress members to the president earlier this month, which called for a relaxation of federal restrictions on embryonic stem (ES) cell research. The letter, signed by 206 representatives, called for the president to change his policy, which has been in...
10 May 2004 - by BioNews 
Following a letter from Congress members to President Bush last week calling for changes in federal restrictions on embryonic stem (ES) cell research, the White House has announced that it will send a representative to a meeting with the lawmakers to discuss the issue. House of Representatives members Diane De...
10 May 2004 - by BioNews 
President Bush is facing mounting pressure to review his three-year old policy on human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. At a gala dinner held on Saturday night for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Nancy Reagan, wife of the former US President Ronald Reagan, made a passionate speech imploring the...
29 April 2004 - by BioNews 
A letter signed by 206 cross-party members of the US House of Representatives has been sent to President Bush, asking him to change his policy on embryonic stem (ES) cell research. On 9 August 2001, the President issued an executive order limiting the availability of federal funds for ES cell...
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