"Cells in a petri dish"
A bill that would ease restrictions on stem cell research is bitterly dividing Congressional Republicans, according to this Washington Post account. Backers of the measure, including its Republican co-sponsor, say the bill has enough votes to pass, and it is supported by former Republican Senator John C. Danforth, an ordained minister who has been critical of the GOP's ties to the radical religious right.
Advocates are winning support from some antiabortion leaders with the argument that "cells in a Petri dish" that would otherwise be discarded are not comparable to a fetus that "would become a person in the normal course of events," said John C. Danforth, an ordained minister and former Republican senator who served as Bush's ambassador to the United Nations.
James C. Greenwood, a moderate Republican who retired from Congress last year to become president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), said he is "cautiously optimistic" that, given the large number of co-sponsors, the House will pass the bill.
Proponents of an identical bill in the Senate say they have enough votes to kill a filibuster. (In light of the battle regarding filibusters for judicial nominees, I'm sure we'll see plenty of bi-partisan hippocrisy should conservatives try to filibuster the bill.)
Months too late for John Kerry's presidential bid, it appears that stem cell research may become the wedge issue he tried to make it. I think that proponents of stem cell research (and it is important to remember that the president did not ban it, he merely restricted federal funding) need to acknowledge that it presents some moral quandries. But politicians sympathetic to the religious right on this issue need to explain why they are not taking a similar stand against fertility clinics, where embryos are routinely discarded.