May 31, 2005
A rare vote for progress:
BOSTON — The Legislature yesterday swiftly overturned Gov. Mitt Romney's veto and approved a bill designed to propel Massachusetts to the forefront of embryonic stem-cell research.
The bill immediately became law over Romney's objections, after both chambers exceeded the two-thirds vote needed to override a veto.
Under previous state law, scientists who wanted to conduct embryonic stem-cell research in Massachusetts needed the approval of the local district attorney. The new law seeks to expand stem-cell research by removing that requirement but giving the state Health Department some regulatory controls.
The Republican governor vetoed the bill last week because it allows the cloning of human embryos for use in stem-cell experiments, a practice Romney said amounts to creating life in order to destroy it.
As the National Institutes of Health points out, if scientists can reliably direct the differentiation of embryonic stem cells into specific cell types, they may be able to use the resulting, differentiated cells to treat certain diseases at some point in the future. Diseases that might be treated by transplanting cells generated from human embryonic stem cells include Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, traumatic spinal cord injury, Purkinje cell degeneration, Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, heart disease, and vision and hearing loss.
This is A Good Thing.
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