Today President Bush issued his second veto of legislation that would have expanded federal support for human embryonic stem cell research. According to the Chicago Tribune :
"I made it clear to Congress and the American people that I will not allow our nation to cross this moral line," Bush said in the East Room of the White House, the same stage he had used to veto the first bill. "Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical, and it is not the only option before us."
As an interesting counterpoint to the veto, the journal Science will publish a report tomorrow (not currently available) that finds that more than half of infertility patients with surplus embryos in storage would be willing to donate them to research–presumably without too much concern about how that research is funded. The Science summary notes:
Roughly half of the infertility patients that participated in a new survey said they were somewhat or very likely to donate their unused embryos for stem cell research rather then have them destroyed or donated to another infertile couple. These results, discussed in a Policy Forum by Anne Drapkin Lyerly and Ruth R. Faden, contrast sharply with previous estimates of the number of embryos that would be available for stem cell research if U.S. legislation permitted their use. The authors write that these results "suggest a remarkable concurrence between the preferences of infertility patients and the values and priorities of the majority of the American public who support progress in stem cell research through the use of post-infertility treatment embryos." The findings also indicate that a larger than expected number of embryos would likely be available to scientists if a currently proposed bill on human embryonic stem cell research were to succeed.
The folks over at the pro-stem cell advocacy group, the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research don't put too fine a point on their displeasure with the veto. The CAMR press release fuliminates:
"With this veto, President Bush ignored the overwhelming majority in the medical, scientific, and spiritual communities who believe stem cell research holds the key to unlocking the future of better treatments and cures.
"With this veto, President Bush turned the page to start yet another chapter in a Presidential legacy of errors in judgment and bad decisions that needlessly cost American lives in the process.
"More than 100 million Americans suffer from debilitating diseases and disorders for which embryonic stem cell research holds great promise. Despite our anger and disgust at this second, most misguided veto, we will continue to do whatever we can to advance embryonic stem cell research in America . We will always be grateful for the strong, bipartisan support on this issue in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and among the American people."
Finally, a new poll finds that the president is swimming against the tide of public opinion on this issue. Now, 60 percent of Americans think that federal funding restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research should be eased.