Clinton pledges to overturn stem cell R&D limit

By Jeremy Pelofsky

WASHINGTON - US Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has vowed to lift President George W. Bush's restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

She also accused the Bush administration of having "declared war on science" by injecting politics into decisions about health and the environment, such as trying to limit the availability of contraceptives without a prescription and minimising the impact of global warming.

"When I am president, I will end this assault on science," the New York senator and former first lady said at the Carnegie Institution for Science. "America will once again be the innovation nation."

In June, Bush vetoed for the second time legislation to expand federally funded embryonic stem cell research, despite support from a few dozen Republicans. Congress has been unable to override his vetoes.

Embryonic stem cells are the source of every cell, tissue and organ in the body. Scientists want to use them to find cures for such debilitating illness as Parkinson's, cancer and diabetes.

The president and other critics condemn the legislation as morally offensive because it would lead to the destruction of human embryos to derive stem cells.

"I will lift the current ban on ethical stem cell research," Clinton said.

"The president's ban on stem cell funding amounts to a ban on hope," she said, adding "some of our brightest minds are going to head overseas to do their research" because of strict limits.

Republicans countered that during the administration of Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, no federal money was set for such research.

"In her rush to attack the president, Hillary Clinton has conveniently forgotten that George W. Bush is the only president who has ever made federal money available for stem cell research," said Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz.

While Democrats are largely united on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, it has divided Republicans hoping to capture the White House in the November 2008 election.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who leads the Republican field in national polls, has supported limited federally funded research as long as it did not involve creating new life to destroy it. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney opposes using embryos from fertility clinics.

- REUTERS


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