Saturday, July 16, 2005
A new stem cell research bill has been proposed by House Republicans as an alternative to the bill passed by the House and President Bush's position. According to the N.Y. Times, this bill promotes new, unproven methods of obtaining stem cells without destroying embryos. It would set aside taxpayer money for animal studies that could eventually yield methods of developing human embryonic stem cells. Many of the ideas in the bill come from a report by President Bush's Council on Bioethics. Currently the House bill which would permit federal financing for studies on embryos left over from fertility treatments has majority support in the Senate. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) sees this new proposal as an attempt to draw Republican support away from the House bill. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) supports the bill as a compromise that the President would support. He says that it is a "good alternative... and it may solve the ethical constraints."
James Battey, chairman of a stem cell task force at National Institute of Health, says that right now scientists know of no way to derive human embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos. This new alternative bill proposes such concepts as carving one or two cells from microscopic eight-cell embryos to be used for research, while allowing the embryos to continue to develop.
Senate majority leader Bill Frist is expected to bring six stem cell measures to a vote in the Senate next week. He supposedly supports this new bill along with Senator Rick Santorum - although neither office will reveal the details of the bill.
Thanks to Lindley Bain for her help with this post. [tm]