President Bush will again veto a bill to subsidize stem cell research using human embryos, but would sign an alternative that permits public funding for studies on embryos incapable of developing into fetuses, the White House said Tuesday.
Both bills are moving toward a Senate vote this week with a debate over a budding science that some researchers say could cure diseases that afflict millions of people.
The bill Bush opposes, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record), D-Nev., would lift the president's 2001 ban on federal funding for any new embryonic stem cell studies.
Bush contends the measure crosses an ethical line because human embryos are destroyed in the process of extracting the stem cells, material that can morph into any tissue in the body and theoretically replace or heal damaged organs.
"The administration believes that research on alternative sources of stem cells is extremely promising and provides robust opportunities to advance science without compelling American taxpayers to participate in ongoing destruction of human embryos," the White House said in a statement.
If the measure passes both houses and reaches Bush's desk, "he would veto the bill," the statement said.
On the other hand, an alternative sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson (news, bio, voting record), R-Ga., would encourage research that does not harm budding human life, the administration said. That measure would direct taxpayer money to stem cell research on fertilized embryos that have passed the window of time in which they are capable of developing into a human being.
"The administration does not believe science and ethics need be at odds," the statement said.
The Isakson bill would also prohibit taxpayer money from being spent on the creation of embryos for research purposes, a provision some scientists strongly oppose.
The Reid bill is S. 5. The Isakson bill is S. 30.