The House today passed, by a bipartisan vote of 253-174, a bill that would allow federal funding of stem cell research utilizing donated human embryos, and would have the effect of greatly expanding the number of stem cell lines available to researchers. Stem cell research has the potential for expanding life-enhancing and life-saving treatment for many chronic and fatal diseases. While the bill captured the support of sixty percent of the House membership, it was still 37 votes shy of the 290 votes needed to deter a potential veto by George W. Bush.
“Congress is finally dealing with important issues concerning women’s health and economic survival. Passage of H.R. 3 by this significant margin is a start,” says NOW President Kim Gandy. “Women voted for candidates in the mid-term elections who represented fairness and decency, and we are hopeful that this common sense approach to government will ultimately prevail,” said Gandy.
The bill goes next to the Senate, where it will be voted on in the weeks ahead. The National Organization for Women will be urging our members, coalition partners, grassroots campaigns, and progressive advocates to let their Senators know how important this legislative proposal is to them and their families. Contrary to the stance taken by President Bush and religious right-wing zealots, approval of federal funding for stem cell research has bipartisan support in Congress and across the nation. Only 22 percent of those polled agree with the President’s restrictive policy on stem cell research.
Stem cell research is a woman’s issue. Women undergoing fertility treatment deserve the right to donate their leftover embryos for research. Embryonic stem cells are currently ineligible for federal funding because the embryo is destroyed in the process of extracting the stem cells. Yet these frozen embryos — destined to be discarded — could potentially treat and cure a number of debilitating and life-threatening diseases. Unlike adult stem cells, umbilical cord or amniotic stem cells, embryonic stem cells remain the most promising type of stem cell due to their ability to transform into many kinds of specialized cells.
Women can surely benefit from this research to improve their health and save their lives, but they are also primary caretakers for family members and loved ones who suffer from illnesses and injuries. The development of stem cell technology and cures could help ease the burden of those women.
George W. Bush has ignored the health and welfare of women for too long. “He has traded away the prospect for healing technologies in an effort to pacify his extremist base. That era must end,” says Gandy. “Women and men who have frozen embryos must have the right to donate them to science. In addition, we must accelerate the pace of research into cures for our most deadly diseases.”