BOSTON – State House lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a final version of a bill that would give scientists in the state more freedom to conduct embryonic stem cell research (search), despite a promised veto by Gov. Mitt Romney (search).
The bill was approved by a 119-38 vote. The Senate approved it by a 34-2 vote last week. Both votes give supporters far more than the two-thirds majority needed to override a gubernatorial veto. A final procedural vote is needed in both chambers before the bill is sent to Romney's desk.
It would let scientists create cloned embryos and extract their stem cells for research into the potential treatment and cure of diabetes, Parkinson's disease (search), spinal cord injuries and other conditions.
But critics say it will allow scientists to create new human life just to destroy it. They say there are other kinds of stem cell research that don't involve the creation of new embryos.
Romney supports research using adult stem cells or leftover frozen embryos from fertility clinics, but opposes the creation of new embryos.
Under current state law, scientists conducting stem cell research first need the approval of the local district attorney. The bill would remove that requirement, give the state Health Department some regulatory controls and ban cloning (search) for reproductive purposes.