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US Republicans show increasing support for ES cell research

16 May 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 308

According to a recent poll, approximately 57 per cent of Republican voters in the US support human embryonic stem cell (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), there was far less support for his ES cell research policy.

Republican members of Congress who oppose the President's policy have used the poll to generate support for new legislation on ES cell research. Bush announced on 9 August 2001 that no federal funds would be available for researchers working on ES cells created after that date. Scientists have since complained that this policy restricts their research and leaves only less effective ES cell lines for them to work with, as ES cells created before that date were created using mouse 'feeder' cells.

A bill on ES cell research is currently before Congress. Sponsored by Michael Castle and Dianne DeGette, with more than 200 co-sponsors, it would allow federal funds to be used for research on ES cells derived from embryos created for fertility treatments and donated by patients. It would not allow funds for ES cell research on embryos created expressly for research purposes. The bill also provides that patients cannot be paid for embryo donation and that they must have full knowledge of how the donated embryos would be used. Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, said that a vote is scheduled on the bill before the summer recess in August. However, Dave Weldon, a member of Congress who opposes any relaxation of Bush's policy, says that the only reason that there is rising support in Congress is because members are not 'properly educated' on the issues. He said that if Congress knew more then the bill would be 'soundly defeated', adding that research on ES cells as potential therapies is 'garbage'.

Last month, a cross-party group introduced a similar bill to the US Senate that would formally ban human reproductive cloning while relaxing the restrictions on federal funding of ES cell research. In previous years, similar bills have failed to pass through the Senate and Congress. The bill's sponsors - Dianne Feinstein, Orrin Hatch, Arlen Specter, Edward Kennedy and Tom Harkin - say that they will fight harder to gain support from their colleagues for this bill. Hatch has also lent his support to the bill in Congress, saying that 'if we can pass this in the House, I really believe we can pass it in the Senate'. Last week it was announced that an advertising campaign is to be launched to help promote the bill. It will focus on Nancy Reagan's support for ES cell research and will feature newspaper and television advertisements.

Congress' Support of Federal Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research Shows Lack of Education on Issue, Rep. Weldon Says
Medical News Today |  12 May 2005
Poll: GOP Voters OK Stem Cell Research
The Washington Post |  10 May 2005
Sen. hatch joins group of US house republicans to support bill loosening restrictions
Medical News Today |  14 May 2005
22 May 2006 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
Nancy Reagan, former first lady of the US, has reiterated her calls for federal legislation supporting embryonic stem (ES) cell research. Earlier this month, she published a personal letter that she had written to Senator Orrin Hatch, saying that she wants to see debate and a...
11 July 2005 - by BioNews 
A new poll reveals that 63 per cent of Americans think the US should adopt a national policy for medical research using human embryonic stem (ES) cells, while 57 per cent support the use of federal funds for such work. The survey, carried out by Research!America, also found that...
20 June 2005 - by BioNews 
Senators in the US will start to debate a bill on the issue of human embryonic stem (ES) cell research next month. A bipartisan group of senators is campaigning to persuade President Bush to relax his policy on the research. Bush, who opposes any research that would involve the destruction...
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...
21 March 2005 - by BioNews 
New federal legislation that would ban all forms of human cloning has been introduced to both the US Senate and Congress. Senators Sam Brownback and Mary Landrieu have co-sponsored the Senate bill and Representatives Dave Weldon and Bart Stupak are sponsoring the bill in Congress. All of the sponsors have...
21 February 2005 - by BioNews 
A new bill, designed to expand funding for embryonic stem (ES) cell research, has been introduced to both chambers of the US federal legislature. Last Wednesday, bill HR810, also known as the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, was put forward by a bipartisan group of members of the...
7 July 2004 - by BioNews 
Last week, in its monthly magazine, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) announced its support for human embryonic stem (ES) cell research and called for federal funding to be restored for new studies to fight disease. This may add to the 'pressure' on President Bush to relax his policy on such...
9 June 2004 - by BioNews 
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 (ES) cell research. Their action comes only a month after a similar letter to the president was signed by 206...
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