BOSTON – The Legislature on Tuesday overrode Gov. Mitt Romney's (search) veto and approved a bill designed to propel Massachusetts to the forefront of embryonic stem cell research.
The bill immediately became law over Romney's objections, after both chambers exceeded the two-thirds vote needed to override a veto. The vote was 112-42 in the House and 35-2 in the Senate.
Under previous state law, scientists who wanted to conduct embryonic stem cell research (search) in Massachusetts needed the approval of the local district attorney. The new law seeks to expand stem cell research by removing that requirement but giving the state Health Department some regulatory controls.
The Republican governor vetoed the bill last week because it allows the cloning (search) of human embryos for use in stem cell experiments — a practice Romney said amounts to creating life in order to destroy it.
Romney has said he supports research using either adult stem cells or cells extracted from leftover frozen embryos from fertility clinics.
The new Massachusetts law bans closing that results in a baby, but that practice is already prohibited under federal law.
Supporters of embryonic stem cell experiments hope to transform Massachusetts into a center for cutting-edge research into the cure and treatment of spinal cord injuries and diseases like diabetes and Parkinson's.
The bill does not include any funding for the research, but Senate President Robert Travaglini, a Boston Democrat, said the Senate may consider devoting taxpayer money to the research in the future.