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House Could Return to Fight Over Stem Cell Research

A fall battle is shaping up over embryonic stem cell research after a federal judge ruled Monday against President Barack Obama’s executive order allowing the research under some circumstances.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), a chief deputy whip who reintroduced a stem cell research bill with Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) in March, hopes her bill will come to the floor when Congress reconvenes.

“She has always known that we must codify the ability to conduct this critical lifesaving research, and the Congresswoman believes that this ruling has now created a greater sense of urgency,” said her spokeswoman, Juliet Johnson. Johnson added that the legislation has started picking up new co-sponsors since the judge’s ruling. Earlier stem cell bills passed the House with bipartisan majorities; President George W. Bush vetoed an earlier version.

“Our nation already lost valuable time over the last decade, when we could have been bringing our massive resources and expertise to bear, expanding stem cell research and helping 100 million American patients living with devastating and debilitating diseases,” DeGette said in a statement.

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) praised the ruling.

“It is morally wrong to create human life in order to destroy it for research, and it is wrong that the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans have been used to fund this destructive research,” Pence said.

Backers of the research note that Obama’s policy would only use embryos that would otherwise be discarded, and the federal funding could not pay for the actual destruction of the embryo. The judge found that funding the research on the stem cells themselves but not the destruction of the embryo still violated a Congressional ban on federal funding.

The Obama administration has said that it is reviewing the decision and considering its options, including legislation.

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