HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Frist and Stem Cells

The Washington Post's Ceci Connolly has a good piece in today's paper, in which she discusses the perception of many that Dr. Bill Frist (R. Tenn.), the Senate majority leader, is trimming his health-care sails to suit the political winds blowing him toward a run for the Presidential nomination in 2008.  Noting his strong support for federal funding for stem-cell research in July 2001, one month before the President announced his much weaker program, Connolly's article states that Frist continues to disappoint stem-cell researchers and long-time supporters of the Senator who expected more independence and leadership from their man.

Connolly says the issue may be back before the Senate in a hurry:

As Congress begins its Fourth of July recess, activists on both sides of the stem cell divide are gearing up for what appears to be a fresh fight in the Senate, perhaps as early as the week lawmakers return.

On one side are scientists and patient groups who say the cells taken from days-old embryos hold enormous potential for treating a range of illnesses because they can grow into any type of cell or tissue in the body. Opponents object to the research because the process involves destroying the embryo. . . .

In May, with 50 Republican votes, the House passed legislation [HR 810] that would permit federal research on tens of thousands of frozen embryos donated by couples at fertility clinics. Bush has threatened to veto the bill, placing additional pressure on Frist to stand by a policy that falls far short of the approach he envisioned four years ago.

This will be worth watching. [tm]

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