Senate says yes to stem cell research; Bush to veto
The bill passed 63-37, four votes short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override Bush’s veto. The president left little doubt he would reject the bill despite late appeals on its behalf from fellow Republicans Nancy Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The sticking point in the bill is the use of embryonic stem cells as opposed to adult stem cells. The latter are less ethically ambiguous but the former so much more likely to garner useful science. Wired has an excellent stem cell primer to buff up on the details.
I think it’s good that ethics are at the heart of modern scientific research, or at least that bit that’s in the public. There has been no similar debate or legislation of pharmaceutical nanotechnology, primarily because people don’t understand it, hence it’s not in the headlines. But you just can’t beat anything that might, in some tiny way, be in some way connected to babys to evoke a public reaction.
My own opinion? Well, it’s already illegal to create embryos for research purposes, which is a good thing. In other words the embryonic stem cells would be harvested from biological material that would otherwise be destroyed and hence would best be used for furthering science as long there is independent, objective ethical oversight.