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US stem cell policy news

5 February 2007
Appeared in BioNews 394

Florida's State Representative, Democrat Franklin Sands, has proposed legislation that would dedicate $20 million of state funds over the next ten years to stem cell research on cell lines derived from adults, umbilical cord blood and those obtained from amniotic fluid donated by pregnant women. The proposed legislation would also permit embryonic stem cell research.

The bill, filed last week, would provide for a Stem Cell Research Advisory Council and a Biomedical Ethics Advisory Council to be established being assigned the task of regulating the research within ethical guidelines. Florida Governor, Charlie Crist, voiced support for legislation funding stem cell research, citing the same $20 million figure, but only that which does not involve the destruction of embryos. 'I know [embryonic stem cell research] gives angst for some. I think we can do it in a way that doesn't cause that kind of angst', he said.

And in New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson has reportedly asked legislators for a one-off payment of $3.8 million and an extra $2.2 million annually from the state's budget to fund stem cell research, including the building of a new stem cell research centre at the University of New Mexico. But the use of state funds has been opposed by three New Mexican Roman Catholic Bishops who argue that the money will go towards supporting embryonic stem cell research, to which the Church is unequivocally against. 'To use the stem cells of the embryo, from something that is already human life, then we would be totally against that', said Michael Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe.

Meanwhile, at the federal level, Republican Diana DeGette and Senator Tom Harkin, have announced they may attempt to attach the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act 2007, passed by the House earlier this month but yet to be voted on in the Senate, to the list of 'must-pass' bills if President Bush once again vetoes the legislation. A 'must-pass' bill is a 'vitally important measure' that Congress must enact and usually concerns annual money bills to fund the operations of the Government.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Florida governor to urge state lawmakers to fund nondestructive stem cell research
International Herald Tribune |  31 January 2007
Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research-Related Proposals Introduced in Florida, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico
Kaiser Network |  29 January 2007
Rep. DeGette Says She Will Find Means To Pass Federal Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Expansion Despite Veto Threat
Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy |  30 January 2007
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