WASHINGTON – Christian groups applauded President Bush's veto threat against the recently passed stem cell bill and urged the president to remain firm against the legislation, which would federally fund the destruction of embryos for research.
The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, S. 5, passed the House with a 247-176 vote on Thursday, drawing a rapid written veto threat from Bush, who is still in Germany for the world leaders summit. The bill is the latest attempt by Democrat-controlled Congress to overturn Bush's veto last year on similar stem cell legislation.
"Today, the United States House of Representatives, with its vote on the embryonic stem cell bill, chose to discard existing protections on human life," expressed the president in a statement Thursday. "This bill puts scientific research and ethical principle into conflict, rather than supporting a balanced approach that advances scientific and medical frontiers without violating moral principles."
And recent scientific developments, he added, "have reinforced my conviction that stem cell science can progress in ethical ways," referring to recent reports by scientists who said they produced the equivalent of embryonic stem cells in mice without the controversial destruction of embryos,
Embryonic stem cell research proponents claim the stem cells from embryos are needed to advance medical research. They say the stem cell's ability to differentiate into a wider range of specialized cells gives it greater potential than adult stem cells in finding treatment for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes.
Opponents, however, argue the necessity to destroy the embryo during the stem cell extraction process is immoral.
"Human embryos belong in nurturing wombs, not in dissecting dishes in a research lab," argued Dr. C. Ben Mitchell, director of The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity.
"Killing human embryos for their stem cells is a form of biotech cannibalism that we must not countenance as a civilized society," he said, in a statement. "We cannot permit good intentions to blur the moral boundaries of science. … Compassion must be informed by ethics."
Non-embryonic stem cell research supporters also assert that adult stem cells obtained from sources have shown greater research results than embryonic stem cells.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who is also against the bill, noted that a recent report by the U.S. Catholic Conference has listed numerous breakthroughs involving medical research conducted with adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood and amniotic fluid, none of which involve the destruction of a human embryo.
"You're talking about spare embryos now, but if it ever did work ... it would require the killing of millions of embryos," said Smith, according to AP.
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, further noted that seventy-three diseases or injuries have been successfully treated with adult stem cells thus far. In a statement, the conservative leader also referred to reports by scientists released one day before the House's stem cell bill vote that claimed to have discovered a way to induce skin cells to become embryonic stem cells – a process that does not destroy embryos.
"This latest discovery shows that scientists do not need to destroy human embryos to obtain stem cells and create treatments for patients," Wright said.
"It is never right, and it is unnecessary, to destroy one life to benefit another," she affirmed.
Family Research Council and Christian Legal Society have also condemned the bill while praising Bush for his strong stance against the bill.
Christian Post reporter Eric Young in Washington contributed to this report.