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House Gears Up for Stem Cell Vote

Correction appended

WASHINGTON – Prominent Christian groups are once again hurling criticism at a revived bill that would ease restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research.

The legislation (S.5), which will be voted on this week, is similar to an embryonic stem cell research bill last year that President Bush struck down using his first veto in office. Bush has already threatened to veto the latest bill, calling it a "temptation to manipulate life" at a prayer breakfast in April.

"It's unfortunate that members of Congress are willing to fund the destruction of innocent human life," commented Dawn Vargo, an associate bioethics analyst for Focus on the Family Action.

"Destructive embryonic stem-cell research has yet to provide a single treatment for patients," she added, according to Focus on the Family's Citizenlink. "Adult stem cells, on the other hand, continue to provide treatments and cures for a wide variety of debilitating diseases – including cancer, anemia, arthritis, diabetes and heart disease."

Supporters of embryonic stem cell research claim the stem cell's ability to differentiate into a wider range of specialized cells gives it greater potential than adult stem cells in finding treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes.

However, opponents argue the process is immoral, as human embryos are destroyed in the process of extracting stem cells.

"Besides the moral wrongs of killing embryos and exploiting women, this bill would also divert precious healthcare funds away from ethical and effective research," said Dr. David Stevens, Christian Medical Association's CEO, in a statement following the bill's passage in the Senate.

Family Research Council and the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission have also criticized the bill and are advocating its constituencies to contact their representatives and sign online petitions against the legislation.

Democrats have made the legislation a top priority since they took control of the House and Senate in January, according to The Associated Press.

The House will cast its final vote on S.5 on Thursday. If Bush vetoes the bill again after it passes the House, Congress will need to garner a two-thirds majority vote to override the veto.

Correction: Wednesday, June 6, 2007:

An article on Wednesday, June 6, 2007, about a revived bill that would ease restrictions on federally-funded embryonic stem cell research misspelled the surname of an associate bioethics analyst for Focus on the Family Action who commented on the latest effort by members of Congress. She is Dawn Vargo, not Bargo.

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