Bipartisan Group in Congress Introduces Stem Cell Funding Bill
A bipartisan group of 156 Senators and Representatives introduced a bill this week to expand federal funding for stem cell research. The bill is aimed at loosening restrictions that President Bush placed on federal funding for stem cell research in 2001, which limited federal funding to research that uses stem cells that existed before his policy. A recent study conducted at the University of California San Diego found that all human stem cells eligible for federal research were found to be contaminated. “Because of President Bush’s restrictive stem cell policy, scientists face two choices: either compete for the very limited private funding that does not restrict access to stem cell lines or accept federal support and use only the 22 contaminated lines created before August 9, 2001,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), a major sponsor of the bill in the House.
The new bill would allow scientists receiving federal funding to use stem cells derived from embryos at fertility clinics that will otherwise be discarded, according to the Washington Post. Although the bill has the backing of some influential conservatives such as the ardently anti-abortion Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), House leadership is opposed to the bill and may not bring it to the floor, according to the Post.
“It’s now clear that the President’s policy only offers false hope to the millions of people across this country who are suffering from diseases that could be cured through stem cell research…” said Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), a co-sponsor of the bill, according to Reuters. Research on embryonic stem cells could hold the key to cures for such degenerative diseases as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes, as well as spinal cord injuries, cancer, and heart disease. Scientists believe that treatments using stem cells on people with spinal cord injuries are only a year-and-a-half away, and that clinical trials using stem cell research for heart failure and diabetes are only a few years away.
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/29/2014 North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Restrictions - The North Dakota Supreme Court yesterday upheld a set of misguided restrictions on medication abortion, allowing what is effectively a ban on early, non-surgical abortions in the state to go into effect immediately.
The decision overturned a lower court order finding the law, known as HB 1297, unconstitutional and permanently blocking its enforcement. . . .