Thursday, January 11, 2007

House OKs stem-cell bill, but not enough votes to overcome President's veto
Posted on CNN Money, Aaron Smith

NEW YORK ( -- The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that would lift President Bush's funding restrictions on research involving embryonic stem cells.

But the Democratic-controlled House passed the bill 253-174, less than the two-thirds majority it would need to override a veto from Bush, who vetoed the last bill involving funding for embryonic stem cell research. The Senate has not yet voted on the bill.

In anticipation of today's vote, investor interest in biotech stocks has been whipped up, though biotechs probably wouldn't benefit directly from the funding, even if it's eventually approved.

"This is a step in the right direction, but if anyone is buying StemCells Inc. based on this one vote, they need to rethink their priorities," said Steve Brozak, analyst at the investment and research firm WBB, referring to one of the biotechs involved in stem cell research.

Proponents of the use of embryonic human stem cells in medical testing say it could hold the secrets to healing people with severed spinal cords, brain damage and other disabling injuries as well as diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

But the technology is unproven and even if it works, it's years away from producing therapies that can heal patients. It is also years away from potentially generating income for biotech companies. Yet investors have been bidding the stocks higher.

[The rest of the article is about 4 biotechs to watch that might make you rich, or at least richer, so I skipped the rest.

It is likely that within the next few years, the current restrictive regulations around stem cell research will be overturned. I support this. Many pro-life leaders, such as the Roman Catholic Church and the Religious Right, will oppose it vociferously. To them, embroynic stem cell research is the same as murder.

I suggest that we need to develop a countervailing theology. We need to offer some alternative stance on when human personhood begins. We need to elaborate on under what conditions it is ethical to experiment on embryos. I believe that, so far, the Episcopal Church has declined to take an official stance on when life begins; previous General Conventions have affirmed the right to abortions, but have expressed "grave concern" over partial birth abortions, better called intact dilation and extraction. The procedure, which is rare, was seen as cruel.

Make no mistake, embryos too are forms of human life. If allowed to develop, many of them will result in live births of unique people, who will have unique genetic codes (some shared) and unique life experiences. I disagree that it is wrong to destroy an embryo with no central nervous system or consciousness, but let's face it, I could be wrong. I think some dialog might be healthy for the church. We're already tearing the church apart over gay people, so what's the worst that could happen?]

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