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Fetal-tissue transplant bill dies.

Eleventh-hour filibustering has thwarted a Senate bill that would have allowed federally funded fetal-tissue transplant researchers to use tissues from induced abortions.

As the 102nd Congress struggled to conclude its legislative business last week, a dozen senators delayed indefinitely consideration of the bill, which would also have authorized additional spending on breast cancer research and other high-priority areas of women's health.

Majority leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) grudgingly conceded the demise of the bill during the congressional session that concluded this year. But he vowed to make passage of the measure a top priority next year.

"That will be the first order of business in the next Senate, and it will begin the first day that the Senate reconvenes following the inauguration of the President," Mitchell said on the Senate floor last week.

The funding ban on transplantation of tissues from induced abortions has been in place since 1988. In July of this year, President Bush vetoed a congressional attempt to reverse the prohibition (SN: 7/4/92, p.15).

Fetal-tissue transplantation has shown promise as an experimental therapy for Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and Huntington's disease (SN: 11/16/91, p.308). But opponents claim that proliferation of the technique would increase the number of elective abortions.

To cushion the effect of his veto earlier this year, Bush suggested the establishment of a federal bank of fetal tissue procured from miscarriages and from termination of life-threatening ectopic pregnancies. Scientists contend, however, that such tissues are often unusable for research because of contamination or genetic defects. Also, the bank might not provide enough suitable tissue for research.

The bill that met its end in the Senate last week -- a modified version of the measure vetoed in July -- would have sanctioned transplantation of tissue from induced abortions only if supplies from the planned federal bank proved inadequate or unusable.
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Title Annotation:Senate says bill will be re-introduced in 1993
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Oct 17, 1992
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