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The National Abortion Federation Urges Enactment of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act

The National Abortion Federation (NAF) supports embryonic stem cell research, which has the potential to help find new treatments, or even cures, for those individuals suffering from degenerative diseases. In the 110th Congress, House and Senate Leadership indicated that passage of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would expand funding for this promising medical research, would be a priority. In January, 2007, this important legislation passed in the House of Representatives, and in April it passed in the Senate. However, President Bush has indicated he will veto this bill.

The Administration's current stem cell research policy allows federal funding only for research using stem cell lines created on or before August 9, 2001, the day President Bush announced the policy. Unfortunately, these cell lines are contaminated and cannot be used to develop treatments that could safely be given to patients. The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act would lift the existing restrictions and expand the number of stem cell lines that are eligible for federally funded research, while maintaining strict ethical requirements. It would permit scientists to extract stem cells from embryos that were created for the purposes of fertility treatments, so long as they are in excess of a couple's need and donated with appropriate informed consent.

In 2006, this legislation passed both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support; President Bush, however, rejected the views of a majority of Americans and vetoed the bill. President Bush is pandering to the extreme religious right, who want to equate an embryo that could not survive outside a woman's uterus to the status of a person. They hope that this elevation of the embryo would facilitate a challenge to Roe v. Wade. Yet even legislators who oppose abortion rights have spoken out in favor of the bill.

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act has the potential to accelerate our progress toward finding a treatment for the millions of Americans suffering from diseases like cancer, diabetes, Parkinsons, ALS, and Alzheimers. We urge President Bush to stop playing politics with people's lives and sign it into law.

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