April 26, 2005

Mass. Senate Approves Stem Cell Bill

BOSTON (AP) -- The state Senate overwhelmingly backed a stem cell research bill Tuesday and sent it to the House, where it could be debated as early as next week.

The bill, which encourages embryonic stem cell research in Massachusetts, was approved 34-2, meaning the Senate could easily override an expected veto by Gov. Mitt Romney. The measure also appears to have veto-proof support in the House.

The bill would allow scientists to create cloned embryos and extract their stem cells for research. Supporters say the research could lead to the cure or treatment of diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries. Critics say scientists could create human life just to destroy it.

Under current state law, scientists conducting stem cell research need the approval of the local district attorney. The bill would remove that requirement, give the state Health Department some regulatory control and ban cloning for reproductive purposes.

The bill also creates an advisory council that would hold public meetings and give lawmakers an annual report on new research. Among other things, the panel would be charged with investigating whether women should be compensated for donated eggs.