Feinstein Begins Online Signature Gathering Effort to Expand Stem Cell Research
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) on Thursday began a national online petition drive that aims to persuade the Bush administration to reverse a policy that limits federally funded stem cell research to 79 existing lines, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Epstein, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/30). President Bush on Aug. 9, 2001, announced a policy that limited federally funded embryonic stem cell research to stem cell lines created on or before that date. Supporters maintain that embryonic stem cell research could lead to treatments or cures for diseases such as cancer, juvenile diabetes and Alzheimer's (California Healthline, 6/8).
Feinstein is a sponsor of legislation (S 303) currently stalled in the Senate that would allow federally funded embryonic stem cell research in the United States and has received support for the petition from several advocacy groups for people with diseases that could benefit from stem cell research. According to the Chronicle, 264 of the 535 members of Congress support embryonic cell research.
In a statement, Feinstein said, "An overwhelming majority of Americans support embryonic stem cell research, and it is time that the White House take note of their concerns." Those opposed to embryonic stem cell research contend that the process is "immoral" because it requires destroying human embryos and it could lead to human cloning, the Chronicle reports.
Sen. Sam Brownback (D-Kan.), who is sponsoring a bill to ban embryonic stem cell research, said, "It is wrong to create human life just to destroy it, yet that is exactly what is being proposed by those who support human cloning for research purposes." He added that adult stem cell research, which does not involve destroying human embryos, has had recent successes (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/30).