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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Stem Cell Votes Set for House Today

[original posted at 8:47 AM, May 24, 2005]

This is a pro-life culture check. One of the things we need to keep in mind is what the attraction is to embryonic stem cells. Per Leon Kass, chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics:

[H]uman embryonic stem cells hold great interest and present research opportunities of great moment and promise, primarily because of their pluripotency—their capacity to give rise to the various specialized cells of the body—and because of their self-renewing longevity, their ability to be propagated in this form for many generations in laboratory culture without losing this pluripotency.

Earlier this month the PCBE issued a white paper, Alternative Sources of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells, which highlighted that there are no readily available, ethical alternatives with these characteristics (Zenit has a good rundown on the paper). In addition to pushing research forward with adult stem cells and stem cells from umbilical cord blood, Congress ought to consider funding research for the one ethical option the council investigated, reprogramming somatic cells so as to restore to them the pluripotency of embryonic stem cells. That is, of course, if you reject the reasonable premise that the federal government should not be funding basic research in the first place.

Update:

Ignoring President Bush's veto threat, the House voted 238-194, well short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto, to loosen limits on embryonic stem cell research. The president again called the bill a mistake and said he would veto it.

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