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US Senators to debate embryo stem cells soon

20 June 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 313

Senators in the US will start to debate a bill on the issue of human eembryonic stem cell (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 of human embryos, announced on 9 August 2001 that no federal funds would be available for researchers working on human ES cells created after that date. US 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.

Earlier this month, President Bush reiterated his pledge to veto any federal legislation that would relax the policy on ES cell research conducted by federally funded researchers. A bill loosening the restrictions was passed by the House of Representatives last month - if passed through the Senate, it would allow federal funds to be used for research on ES cells derived from embryos left over from fertility treatments and voluntarily donated by patients. The House passed the bill by 238 votes to 194, which is not enough, however, to allow the President's veto to be overridden. But Senator Arlen Specter has said he is confident that the two thirds majority can be achieved in the Senate.

Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, confirmed that the Senate will debate the issue sometime in July, although he did not specify which bill or bills will be the subject of debate. But Senator Orrin Hatch, who supports the legislation, said he believes that the bill passed through the House of Representatives will be the most likely: 'He knows he has to bring it up, and I believe he will', he said. But Senator Sam Brownback, who opposes ES cell research, said that he has not ruled out a 'filibuster' of the bill, adding that there will be a 'very robust debate' and that this 'is the central moral issue of our day'.

Meanwhile, former US first lady Nancy Reagan is to renew her efforts campaigning for ES cell research, a little after the anniversary of the death of her husband, former President Ronald Reagan. She wants federal funding to be increased to enable research into diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, which her husband died from. Her spokeswoman, Joanne Drake, said 'this is a very important issue to her and I know she remains committed to the cause and will do what she can at the right time'. Mrs Reagan campaigned 'behind the scenes' before the vote on the bill relaxing the policy in the House of Representatives, and is likely to do the same before the Senate debates, according to reports.

Nancy Reagan Eyes Senate Stem-Cell Support
The Washington Post |  17 June 2005
Nancy Reagan May Prod Senate on Stem Cells
The Guardian |  17 June 2005
Senate to debate stem cells in July
The Washington Times |  18 June 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...
21 October 2005 - by BioNews 
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has proposed postponing until 2006 a vote on a bill that would expand federal funding for human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act 2005 would, if passed, allow funding for scientists to conduct ES cell research on embryos left over...
7 October 2005 - by BioNews 
A Wisconsin University-based research group, WiCell, is set to host the first federally-funded US bank of human embryonic stem (ES) cells. The National Stem Cell Bank will house many of the ES cell lines approved for use in research paid for by the government, the National Institutes of Health (NIH...
23 September 2005 - by BioNews 
Florida may be the next US state to fund embryonic stem (ES) cell research, under a proposed constitutional amendment put forward by the group Floridians for Stem Cell Research and Cures (FSCRC). The proposal would allocate $200 million over ten years to the research and its backers say the language...
8 September 2005 - by BioNews 
Human embryonic stem (ES) cells grown for a long time in the laboratory become genetically unstable, according to a new study by an international group of researchers. The scientists, who published their findings in the journal Nature Genetics, say that many of the older cell lines they studied had acquired...
6 June 2005 - by BioNews 
The state legislature of Massachusetts, US, has overruled a veto of legislation on human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. The legislation, which was sponsored by Senate President Robert Travaglini, allows embryos to be cloned for medical research purposes, but prohibits human reproductive cloning. The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed the...
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...
28 July 2004 - by BioNews 
Ron Reagan, the son of the late US president Ronald Reagan, has urged Democrat supporters to vote for candidates who would relax policy on human embryonic stem (ES) cell research. Speaking at the Democrat National Convention (DNC) on Tuesday, he told delegates that while he understood there were ethical and...
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