Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bush unswayed by Sen. Frist on stem cell research


Bush unswayed by Sen. Frist on stem cell research

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President Bush in remarks published on Wednesday reiterated his threat to veto any legislation that would use federal funds to destroy human embryos for stem cell research after Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist broke with Bush on the subject.

"I'm confident that I have achieved the right balance between science and ethics," he told eight newspapers in a roundtable interview on Tuesday.

Frist, a Tennessee Republican and surgeon, last Friday endorsed legislation that would expand federally funded embryonic stem cell research, seen as possible cures to diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and others.

Bush allowed federal funding for stem cell research in 2001 but imposed limits on it. He has vowed to veto the pending legislation because embryos are destroyed when the stem cells are extracted.

The bill, approved in the House and likely to come up in the Senate after the August recess, would allow federally funded research on stem cells derived from leftover embryos in fertility clinics. There are currently about 400,000 such frozen embryos, many of which will otherwise be destroyed.

"They have the prerogative to pass laws. I have the prerogative to set limits on what I think is right," Bush said of congressional efforts to lift the restrictions he imposed.

The White House would not provide a transcript of Bush's remarks, in keeping with its policy that interviews are exclusive to the news organization.

But White House spokesman Trent Duffy said that in the interview "reiterated that he would veto any legislation that would use taxpayer dollars to destroy human embryos. That is the line he has drawn."

In the interview, Bush also said he was "troubled" by a recent ruling by the Supreme Court on eminent domain that curbed property rights.

By a 5-4 vote, the court ruled that a city can take a person's home or business with just compensation for a development project designed to revitalize a depressed local economy.

Bush said he would give serious review to congressional efforts to ease its impact through legislation.