.- Pro-life and ethics groups across the United States are expressing their disapproval after the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday in favor of extending federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. The newly elected Democratically controlled House’s vote is a move to lift the restrictions President George W. Bush had imposed on such research by veto in 2001.
The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 3) would allow federal funding on research involving stem-cell lines derived from embryos created at fertility clinics as part of the process of in-vitro fertilization.
The 253-174 vote in Congress of fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a promised presidential veto. However, the stem cell bill now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass with a veto-proof two-thirds majority.
The White House has reiterated Bush's intention to use his veto power, saying American taxpayers should not pay for research involving the intentional destruction of human embryos, reported Reuters.
The measure passed in Congress after an emotional debate in which supporters argued that embryonic stem-cell research has the best hope for potential cures for degenerative diseases. Opponents condemned it as unethical and immoral, and pointed to alternative sources for stem cells.
"It is not necessary to sacrifice the life of embryos to obtain cells that could become embryonic stem cell lines," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md). "It is wrong to use federal taxpayer dollars for research which offends the morals and ethics of millions of Americans."
In a statement, the Illinois Federation for Right to Life pointed out that embryonic stem cells “have yet to cure one person.” The group underlined the successful clinical trials with adult stem-cell research, which does not involve any ethical dilemmas.
“Now with the discovery stem cells in amniotic fluid there is no reason for embryonic stem cell research,” the group added, referring to a scientific breakthrough published last week which indicates the remarkable similarities between embryonic stem-cells and stem-cells acquired from amniotic fluid - a process which most pro-life groups have deemed ethically sound.
“Since ethical alternatives exist, this bill is about playing politics, not helping patients," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.
"We hope the Senate will show a more vigilant regard for life and not fall prey to the manipulations and falsehoods extended by those who want to strip human rights from an entire class of human beings," she added.
"Partisan politics has trumped ethical science. Not only is it unethical to kill embryos for their stem cells, it is unnecessary and undesirable," said C. Ben Mitchell, director of the Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity.
The bill, he said in a statement, allows the use of federal taxpayer dollars to support and thereby encourage the destruction of nascent human life for highly speculative research purposes.
"While the need for relief of human suffering is great, we must not seek cures for some at the expense of the lives of others,” he said.