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Bill to regulate stem-cell research fails
The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — After days of delay, the Senate yesterday killed a bill that would regulate stem-cell research, with two Republicans who originally supported the measure jumping back to join their caucus.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Finkbeiner, R-Kirkland, was the lone Republican to vote for the bill, which was defeated 26-23.
The measure would have permitted stem-cell research, including the use of human embryonic stem cells, but would have prohibited reproductive cloning. Washington law currently doesn't address stem-cell research.
Senate Democrats said they thought they had enough votes to pass the bill, but a handful of senators apparently changed their minds.
Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, voted against the bill, after giving a floor speech Friday in which he said he was voting in favor. In his speech, he said he lost his grandfather and a close friend to Alzheimer's and that his father died from complications of diabetes.
"I've seen people suffer," Hewitt said Friday. By limiting research, "that's telling science that we can't move forward."
Hewitt did not return phone calls yesterday afternoon.
Senate Republicans tried various tactics to delay the vote yesterday. The stalling frustrated Senate Democrats, who have been waiting to vote since an emotional debate Thursday.
Embryonic stem cells are at the heart of the controversy. Such cells come from human embryos created through in-vitro fertilization. The embryos are destroyed when stem cells are extracted.
Scientists believe embryonic stem-cell research could lead to cures for diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and diabetes. Foes say destroying the embryos is destroying human life.
In an attempt to keep it alive, Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, switched her vote from yes to no.
Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said that because Brown voted with the majority, Senate rules will allow Brown to bring the bill back for reconsideration.
"It's not dead," said Kohl-Welles, who sponsored a companion bill.
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company