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Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 810 - Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005

May 24, 2005



(Rep. Castle (R) DE and 200 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 810, which would require Federal taxpayer dollars to be used to encourage the ongoing destruction of nascent human life. The bill would compel all American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos for the derivation of stem cells, overturning the President's policy that supports research without promoting such ongoing destruction. If H.R. 810 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.

The President strongly supports medical research, and worked with Congress to dramatically increase resources for the National Institutes of Health. However, this bill would support and encourage a line of research that requires the intentional destruction of living human embryos for the derivation of their cells.

Destroying nascent human life for research raises serious ethical problems, and many millions of Americans consider the practice immoral.

The Administration believes that government has a duty to use the people's money responsibly, both supporting important public purposes and respecting moral boundaries. Every year since 1995, Congress has on a bipartisan basis upheld this balance by prohibiting Federal funds for research in which an embryo is destroyed. Consistent with this provision, the President's policy permits the funding of research using embryonic cell lines created prior to August 9, 2001, along with stem cell research using other kinds of cell lines. Scientists can therefore explore the potential application of such cells, but the Federal government does not offer incentives or encouragement for the destruction of nascent human life.

H.R. 810 seeks to replace that policy with one that offers very little additional practical support to the research, while using Federal dollars to offer a prospective incentive for the destruction of human embryos. Moreover, H.R. 810 relies on unsupported scientific assertions to promote morally troubling and socially controversial research. Embryonic stem cell research is at an early stage of basic science, and has never yielded a therapeutic application in humans. It is too early to say if a treatment or a cure will develop from embryonic stem cell research.

The Administration believes that the availability of alternative sources of stem cells further counters the case for compelling the American taxpayer to encourage the ongoing destruction of human embryos for research. Researchers are continually exploring alternative ways to derive pluripotent stem cells. And alternative types of human stem cells - drawn from adults, children, and umbilical-cord blood without doing harm to the donors - have already achieved therapeutic results in thousands of patients with dozens of different diseases.

Moreover, private sector support and public funding by several States for this line of research, which will add up to several billion dollars in the coming few years, argues against any urgent need for an additional infusion of Federal funds which, even if completely unrestricted, would not approach such figures. Whatever one's view of the ethical issues or the state of the research, the future of this field does not require a policy of Federal subsidies offensive to the moral principles of millions of Americans.

H.R. 810 advances the proposition that the Nation must choose between science and ethics. The Administration, however, believes it is possible to advance scientific research without violating ethical principles: both by enacting the appropriate policy safeguards and by pursuing the appropriate scientific techniques. H.R. 810 is seriously flawed legislation that would undo those safeguards and provide a disincentive to pursuing those techniques.

George W. Bush, Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 810 - Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project