For the second time in his presidency, George Bush has vetoed a bill that would broaden federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Currently federal funds can only be used to conduct research on a very limited number of cell lines, approximately 20, created before August 9, 2001. Stem cell research is widely believed to be the most promising avenue for treating diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and Parkinson's disease.
The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 was designed to support research on stem cells which were derived from surplus embryos created in the course of fertility treatment. Conservative estimates put the number of surplus embryos in the United States at more than 400,000 and growing.
Some states have pushed ahead with state-based funding for research, including California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Illinois. But state-based funding is a less than ideal substitute for federal funding, both in terms of dollars invested and coordinated oversight.
President Bush's veto comes in the face of strong public support for stem cell research. An April 2007 ABC news poll found that 68% of Americans support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.