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Posted: 5:31 PM- WASHINGTON - Supporters of expanding embryonic stem cell research, including Utahns suffering from maladies, were frustrated Wednesday with President Bush's second veto of a stem cell bill.
"We understand his ethical position and we appreciate that," says Chad Parker, whose two girls, ages 9 and 7, were diagnosed with type I diabetes as toddlers.
"But we feel like, you know, he continues to be on the wrong side of the fence on this issue knowing the strict ethical guidelines surrounding the bill," said the Santa Clara resident. "We just don't see the abuse he's concerned about."
Bush and some conservative Republicans object to research on the embryonic stem cells because it can lead to the destruction of human embryos. Advocates of the research argue that the embryos, created during in-vitro fertilization efforts, will be tossed anyway and federally funded scientists should at least be allowed to study the embryos.
Parker, who along with his family lobbied Utah's congressional delegation to support a similar bill in 2005, said the embryonic stem cells "offer greater hope than other avenues being pursued right now."
Parker said he's encouraged that more people seem to understand the science of embryonic stem cells and support the research.
"I think the next time it (stem cell legislation) goes around, we'll be there," he said.
Bush -- joined at a White House event with two scientists studying other forms of stem cells for cures and two women who overcame cancer and a disease because of adult stem cell studies - said he supports research that is "ambitious, ethical, and effective."
But the president said destroying a human embryo breaches that line and issued his third veto in his seventh year of office. Bush's first veto was of similar legislation and his second overturned a bill with a deadline to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.
"If this legislation became law, it would compel American taxpayers - for the first time in our history - to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos," Bush said. "I made it clear to Congress and to the American people that I will not allow our nation to cross this moral line."
Instead, Bush issued an executive order directing Mike Leavitt, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to promote research into other "pluripotent" stem cells without the use of embryonic stem cells. Leavitt, the former Utah governor, was also at the ceremony.
Congress appears not to have the requisite votes to overturn Bush's veto, though an attempt will be made in the Senate.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, a conservative who is one of the most prominent Republicans supporting expanded embryonic stem cell research, said he will push to overturn the veto.
Hatch says backing among his colleagues for more embryonic stem cell research is growing, and votes have shown heightened support over time.
"Support continues to grow - both in Congress and in the public - and it's only a matter of time before the federal government gets fully behind this research," Hatch said.
Democrats in Washington took a harder line against Bush on Wednesday, castigating him for vetoing the legislation to boost "life-saving stem cell research."
The veto is "just another example of how out of touch he is with the American people," Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said.
"Bush once again put political posturing ahead of sound science, turning his back on the overwhelming majority of Americans who support stem cell research and the 100 million Americans suffering from debilitating diseases who could benefit from this life-saving science."
Presidential candidates also jumped into the debate on Wednesday, especially on the Republican side where contenders are gunning to be the social conservative choice.
Since Bush issued his executive order in 2001 allowing federal funds for research of the existing stem cell lines, the government has spent more than $130 million on studying the potential of embryonic stem cells. Private companies are not barred from pursuing their own research on the subject.