It’s been exactly one year since President Obama overturned the federal funding restrictions imposed in 2001 by President George W. Bush on human embryonic stem cell research. Now U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Michael Castle (R-DE) announced today their plan to introduce legislation to move the guidelines out of the realm of potentially capricious executive orders and into law. Doing so, they say, will allow Congress to establish an ‘overarching ethical framework’ for the research:
“I am grateful that one year ago today, President Barack Obama asserted U.S. leadership in stem cell research by lifting President George W. Bush’s ban on embryonic stem cell research,” said Rep. DeGette. “But Congress must still enact legislation so that both scientists and individuals who stand to benefit from the promise of this research will have some stability backing their quest for life-changing cures. Since the President’s Executive Order establishing a guidelines process for ethical human stem cell research, the NIH has approved 43 stem cell lines eligible for federal funding. I am committed to codifying the process set out in the President’s Executive Order and ensuring that stem cell lines such as these remain eligible as we look to the future.”
It’s not the first time around for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. It’s been passed twice before, and been vetoed twice by President Bush. Presumably the political climate in the White House is now much more favorable.