News Releases

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Isakson Praises Senate Passage of Legislation Allowing Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Through Proven Process That Respects Life 
Bill Now Moves to U.S. House; President Has Said He Will Sign into Law

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) today praised Senate passage of his legislation that would allow federal investment in embryonic stem cell research that avoids the moral dilemma of destroying a potential life in the process. The bill passed by a vote of 70 to 28. The bill now goes to the U.S. House. President Bush has said he will sign the legislation into law if it reaches his desk.

Isakson introduced S.30, the Hope Offered through Principled and Ethical Stem Cell Research (HOPE) Act, last month with Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). The HOPE Act allows science to move forward in an ethical and moral way by permitting federal funding of scientific research that does not harm embryos, such as deriving cells from amniotic fluid and placentas, and from embryos that have died naturally.

"I am extremely pleased that an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of my Senate colleagues voted in support of the HOPE Act," Isakson said. "This vote is an affirmation of the need to expand embryonic stem cell research. It is also an affirmation that there is a way to expand this important research while still respecting the ethical and moral concerns that exist."

Isakson's bill defines "naturally dead" embryos as "having naturally and irreversibly lost the capacity for integrated cellular division, growth and differentiation that is characteristic of an organism, even if some cells of the former organism may be alive in a disorganized state."  This definition is consistent with the definition of death in all 50 states.

Isakson's legislation was inspired in part based on research that is being conducted at the University of Georgia on three NIH-registered embryonic stem cell lines that were derived from embryos produced during the natural course of the in-vitro fertilization process but considered incapable of surviving in the womb or during the freezing process.

The Senate also approved a second stem cell bill today that would permit federal funding of embryonic stem cell research that allows for the potential destruction of viable embryos. That bill, S.5, is similar to legislation that passed the House and Senate last year, but was later vetoed by President Bush. Isakson voted against this legislation last year and today, because he feels it is wrong to federally fund research that potentially destroys human life when there is an alternative method of research that avoids the moral dilemma. President Bush has said he would veto S.5 and has expressed support for Isakson's bill.