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US Senate stem cell vote postponed until 2006?

21 October 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 331

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 from fertility treatments and donated for research purposes. The bill has already passed through the US House of Representatives, but it stalled in the Senate this summer.

Current policy, set by the President George Bush on 9 August 2001, only allows state funds to be used for research on ES cell-lines that were created before that date. The President has vowed to veto any bill that would extend this policy, should it be passed by the Senate. Although supporters of the bill originally insisted they wanted the vote to take place in 2005, they now concede that there may not be time to fit it in.

Senate Republican official, who wished to remain anonymous, said that Frist would drop this threat in exchange for a definite date in 2006. Senator Orrin Hatch, a supporter of ES cell research, said he 'could live with that', adding 'but it's important to have a date certain'.

A new poll carried out by the US Genetics and Public Policy Center shows that nearly two-thirds of the 2212 Americans questioned supported the expansion of ES cell research. The report, published last week, revealed that 19 per cent of respondents thought that federally funded researchers should be allowed to study new ES cell-lines derived using private funds, while a further 39.7 per cent thought that they should be allowed to create new cell-lines themselves. Around one fifth (21.6 per cent) said that the current policy should remain in place, while 15.9 per cent said that all research to create or study human ES cell-lines should be banned in the US.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Senate May Postpone Stem Cell Vote
The Guardian |  18 October 2005
U.S. Public Supports Stem Cell Research
Science |  21 October 2005
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