President George W. Bush used his first veto on Wednesday to stop legislation to expand embryonic stem cell research championed by top scientists and desired by most Americans.
"It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect, so I vetoed it," Bush said at the White House event. This is the first veto of Bush's 5-year presidency, and he explained that "this bill would support the taking of innocent human life of the hope of finding medical benefits for others."
Bush had long vowed to veto the bill because of his deeply held moral beliefs that destroying human life is wrong -- even in its earliest form, and even in the interest of research that could lead to potentially life-saving medical breakthroughs.
Just a day before, the Senate approved the bill by a 63-37 vote -- a margin too small to override a presidential veto. The president vetoed the bill shortly after it came to his desk.
Stem cell research advocates say the technique shows promise for the treatment of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and for diabetes.
The bill would have lifted rules set by Bush in 2001 making federal funds available only for research on a small number of embryonic stem cell lines which existed at that time.
Polls show as much as 70 percent public support for embryonic stem cell research.
At the same time, Bush announced he had signed another bill, passed unanimously in the House and Senate, that would pre- emptively ban "fetal farming," the prospect of raising and aborting fetuses for scientific research.