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Bush vetoes US stem-cell bill

President Bush has stated his intention to veto a bill passed by the US Senate which voted in favour of funding stem-cell research on human embryos

US President, George W Bush has stated his intention to veto a bill passed by the US Senate, which voted in favour of funding stem-cell research on human embryos.

The Senate approved legislation to lift Bush's restriction for the use of federal funds for stem-cell research on human embryos, resulting in the Presidentís release of a statement confirming he would oppose the bill. The Senate voted 63-34 for the draft law, just short of the two-thirds majority needed to reverse a veto.

Bush said in a statement: "This bill crosses a moral line that I and many others find troubling. If it advances all the way through Congress to my desk, I will veto it. I believe this will encourage taxpayer money to be spent on the destruction or endangerment of living human embryos, raising serious moral concerns for millions of Americans."

The veto is the second time Bush has exercised his right to block a proposal to loosen restrictions on the use of human embryos. However scientists have been campaigning to overturn the restrictions, saying that only 20 such lines now exist and that the US could miss out on vital research into the treatment of degenerative diseases.

Stem cells harvested from human embryos are immature cells which can grow into various tissues and it is the goal of scientists in the field to replace organs damaged by accident or disease. The cells are genetically matched to the patient and cannot be rejected by the immune system.

In 2006, Bush exercised his power of veto for the first time in his presidency to halt a similar law passed in Congress, when it was controlled by his Republican party. As the Democrats now have control of Congress, Bush has less room to manoeuvre.

Currently, US researchers are subject to federal restrictions which state they can only use cell lines available before a 2001 ban was instituted in Bushís first year as President. The move was seen as a tactical decision by Bush to woo the fundamentalist religious right, who supported him in his election campaign and are against the use of human embryos.

Bush has offered a compromise, which encourages stem-cell research on embryos that have died "naturally", adding that he also voiced backing for research on stem cells not taken from embryos.

Bush added: "Advances using adult and other forms of stem cells are exciting. Some have even produced effective therapies and treatments for disease, all without the destruction of human life."

18th April 2007

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