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Senators Urge Change in Stem Cell Policy

Fifty-eight US Senators sent a letter to President Bush last Friday urging him to loosen federal restrictions on stem cell research. The letter, dated Friday, was signed by 42 Democrats, one Independent, and 15 Republicans. “This issue is especially poignant given President Reagan’s passing,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, one of the five Senators who organized the letter, according to the Washington Post. “Embryonic stem cell research might hold the key to a cure for Alzheimer’s and other terrible diseases.” The Bush Administration in 2001 restricted stem cell research to only those human embryonic stem cell lines that had been established to date. However, as the letter notes, scientists have found that the number of viable lines turned out to be much smaller than anticipated, and all of the lines have been compromised by being mixed with mouse cells, the Associated Press reports. A White House spokesperson yesterday reaffirmed Bush’s stem cell policy. Many conservatives, including abortion opponents, are abandoning the official White House stance and coming out in favor of stem cell research, which has the potential to treat and possibly cure diseases and disabilities that currently afflict 128 million Americans. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) credits Nancy Reagan’s emerging role as a strong advocate for stem cell research as helping sway conservatives on the issue, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Though she has never publicly criticized Bush’s policy, she said last month at a fundraiser that “Science has presented us with a hope called stem cell research, which may provide our scientists with many answers that for so long have been beyond our grasp É We have lost so much time already. I just really can’t bear to lose any more,” according to Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report.

Sources:

Associated Press 6/7/04; Washington Post 6/8/04; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 6/8/04; Philadelphia Inquirer 6/8/04

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