Stem cell research bill passes in House; Senators urge quick vote

May 26, 2005

A bill that would amend the Public Health Service Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct and support research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells was passed in the House on Tuesday, and members of the Senate have urged Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) to allow the Senate to vote on the bill, without amendments, immediately.

A bill that would amend the Public Health Service Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct and support research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells was passed in the House on Tuesday, and members of the Senate have urged Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) to allow the Senate to vote on the bill, without amendments, immediately.

If the bill passes in the Senate and is sent to the president, he has vowed to veto it.

"This bill would take us across a critical ethical line by creating new incentives for the ongoing destruction of emerging human life. Crossing this line would be a great mistake," President Bush told a White House audience of families who adopted or had given up for adoption frozen embryos that remained after fertility treatments.

In order to qualify for research funding, stem cells would have to meet the following requirements:

  • The stem cells would be derived from human embryos donated from in vitro fertilization clinics for the purpose of fertility treatment and were in excess of the needs of the individuals seeking such treatment.

  • The embryos would never be implanted in a woman and would otherwise be discarded.

  • Such individuals donate the embryos with written informed consent and receive no financial or other inducements.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine applauded the legislation, saying its sponsors' efforts "will contribute to the progress of this potentially life-saving research and will bolster the hopes millions of Americans."

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 was introduced in February 2005 and passed by a vote of 238 to 194. It was sponsored by Rep. Michael Castle (R-DE) and co-sponsored by 200 members of the House.