Culture Club

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to expand federal financing for embryonic stem cell research, defying a veto threat from President Bush, who appeared at the White House with babies and toddlers born of test-tube embryos and warned the measure “would take us across a critical ethical line.” …

The embryonic stem cell debate … inflamed the passions of the House, sounding at various times like a lesson in cell biology, a theological discourse and a personal confessional. Lawmaker after lawmaker came to the House well to recount struggles with conscience and searing personal experiences with death and disease.

Representative Jim Langevin, Democrat of Rhode Island, rolled to the microphone in his motorized wheelchair to speak of his spinal cord injury, which he said could be helped by the research. Representative Jo Ann Emerson, Republican of Missouri, told of a young man named Cody, who had been paralyzed in a car accident at age 16 and asked her to rethink her opposition to embryonic stem cell studies.

“I later wrote a note to Cody’s family telling them that even after hearing his story, I couldn’t do as he asked,” Ms. Emerson said, “and I have regretted writing that letter ever since.”

(Da Cox and Forkum)

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