Republican Senator Charles Grassley says he may support a plan to expand stem cell research, but he’ll only back a “narrow” compromise on the issue. Three years ago, President Bush issued an order that allowed just the use of existing embryonic stem cells in medical studies. Grassley says at that time, he supported the use of already-existing lines of stem cells, but if they weren’t adequate he’d consider changing his position and “that time may come now.” Former First Lady Nancy Reagan has asked federal officials to expand stem cell research as a means of finding a cure to Alzheimers, the disease her husband suffered from. Grassley says three years ago, he was convinced there were enough existing lines of stem cells that such research could progress.Grassley says stem cells from adults and from newborn umbilical chords appeared to be adequate, and he wants to be assured that supply is not adequate before he’ll vote to allow the creation of new stem cells. Grassley says it’s a “slippery slope,” because when fertilized eggs are used to create the matter for the research, “you’re destroying life.” Grassley says if permission to expand stem cell research is granted, it all might end as in Hitler’s Germany with the “extermination” of six million Jews. Backers of expanding stem cell research say they have 60 votes in the U.S. Senate to end a filibuster on the issue, but it’s unclear whether the republican-led Senate would pursue the volatile issue in an election year.Democrat Senator Tom Harkin has been among those calling for easing existing restrictions on stem cell research. Harkin says the research could lead to cures for afflictions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans.
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