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First time for everything.

Byline: The Register-Guard

After five years, five months and 29 days in the Oval Office, President Bush finally figured out what the funny rubber stamp was for - the one bearing the foreign-sounding word "OTEV."

One day after the Senate voted 63-37 to join the House in lifting the restrictions he imposed in 2001 on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, Bush on Wednesday ended his chance to become the only two-term president since Thomas Jef- ferson to serve without casting a single veto. As promised, he swiftly killed a bill that he claimed would sanction "the taking of innocent human life."

The vast majority of Americans believe Bush picked the wrong issue on which to part company with Jefferson. That disagreement will likely come back to haunt conservative Republicans in the November elections. The Senate lacked four votes and the House was 52 shy of having veto-proof majorities supporting more federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

The president's veto was heartbreaking to millions of Americans who suffer from spinal cord injuries and life-threatening diseases such as Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's, Parkinson's and diabetes. Embryonic stem cells have the potential to produce lifesaving treatments and, in some cases, cures for a wide range of deadly conditions.

Bush based his veto on a personal religious conviction that human life begins at conception, and therefore, the destruction of a fertilized human embryo to extract stem cells is tantamount to murder. That belief is shared by some, but by no means all, of the president's devoutly religious, conservative base.

A number of leading anti-abortion Republicans - including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Orrin Hatch and Oregon's Gordon Smith - are just as adamant that it is a profoundly pro-life political position to fund research that could save countless lives by using discarded fertility clinic embryos.

Already, the president's first veto has become something of an all-purpose political act. It rallies and energizes many religious conservatives, potentially bringing back to the fold a group of Republican voters unhappy with Bush's position on immigration reform. It also allows a lame duck president with plummeting approval ratings to take some heat off of Republicans facing tough re-election races in November. And it certainly gives Democrats an issue on which they don't have to equivocate and with which they can reach out to Republicans such as Debi Martin of Cincinnati.

Martin is a Christian, a Republican and an abortion opponent, but she told a Reuters reporter that Bush's veto will force her to vote against the party in November. Her 9-year-old daughter, Jessi, has diabetes, and they both hope stem cell research can lead to a cure.

Jessi was conceived by in vitro fertilization. Martin and her husband decided to discard nine unused embryos because she could not have another child.

"I would give anything if I could have had those nine cells to give to have a cure for my baby now," she told Reuters. "And I think the worst sin of all - and I am a very religious person, I am pro-life - is to look a miracle from God in the face and throw it away."
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Title Annotation:Editorials; Bush's first-ever veto will hurt some Republicans
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jul 20, 2006
Words:519
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