Bill Addresses Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) on Friday announced they introduced a bill that would require NIH to research and fund methods of creating embryonic stem cell lines without destroying human embryos, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports (McCullough/Budoff, Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/6). The bill would authorize funding from fiscal year 2007 to FY 2009 for the agency to research stem cells "that have pluripotent or embryonic-like qualities," according to a Santorum release (Santorum release, 5/5).
Pluripotent stem cells can "give rise to all types of tissues in the body" and thus have "tremendous potential to repair and regenerate tissues," according to the Inquirer (Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/6). The bill also contains a rule that the measure would not affect any regulations regarding embryonic stem cells, human cloning or any other research methods currently prohibited (Santorum release, 5/5).
President Bush on Aug. 9, 2001, announced a policy that allows federal funding for embryonic stem cell research only when it uses stem cell lines created on or before that date (American Health Line, 4/4).
The bill also calls for research on adult stem cells that are "capable of producing all or almost all of the (body's) cell types" (AP/Centre Daily Times, 5/5).
The "competing sides" of the debate surrounding the use of human embryos in stem cell research might have found a "win-win option" in the Specter-Santorum proposed measure, Robert George, a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, writes in a Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece. Santorum and Specter have "united" to find a way stem cell research can move "forward full speed ahead ... in a way that is consistent with the consciences of most Americans," George writes.
The two Pennsylvania Republicans "deserve praise for their willingness to work together to find a solution to the embryonic stem cell debate that honors both the claims of science and the consciences of those who cannot counterbalance the taking of embryonic human life in biomedical research," George writes, concluding, Santorum and Specter "have set an example of politicians working for the common good" (George, Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/9).