The ‘Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005” was passed by the House of Representatives late this afternoon. The 238-194 vote falls short of the two-thirds vote needed to override a promised veto by President George W. Bush. The bill, pushed by a group of ‘centrist’ Republicans, would allow the use of ‘discarded’ human embryos in stem cell research. [See breaking news from CNN.]

Speaking at a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House this afternoon, President Bush repeated his pledge to veto the legislation. “Research on stem cells derived from human embryos may offer great promise, but the way those cells are derived today destroys the embryo. I share the hope of millions of Americans who desperately want to find treatments and cures for terrible diseases such as juvenile diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. . . . But I also recognize the grave moral issues at stake. So, in August 2000 first — 2001, I set forward a policy to advance stem cell research in a responsible way by funding research on stem cell lines derived only from embryos that had already been destroyed. This policy set a clear standard: We should not use public money to support the further destruction of human life.” [See text provided by the White House.] The President also encouraged the adoption of ‘spare’ human embryos deposited at fertility clinics.

In another development, the House passed a bill that would direct federal funds to research that would use stems cells derived from umbilical cords and adult tissues–research that would not lead to the destruction of human embryos. That bill passed by a 431-1 vote.

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 is yet another assault upon human dignity, promoted by those who assure us that the destruction of human embryos is justified by the promise of cures or treatments for vexing illnesses and injuries. The bill is likely to pass in the Senate as well. All that stands against this momentum is President Bush and his promised veto. Clearly, we have a lot of ground to recover. The Culture of Life hangs on issues just like this.

FOR QUICK BACKGROUND: See my previous blog entries here and here. For additional news coverage see Bloomberg.com, Fox News, Reuters, and the San Francisco Chronicle.