Saying it's a matter both of science and of faith, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has decided to back expanded federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
Frist is a heart-lung transplant surgeon, and opposes abortion. While research is still in its early stages, Frist told colleagues today that expanding it would lead to scientific advances and "bridge the moral and ethical differences" that have made the issue so controversial.
The move puts Frist at odds with President Bush, who has threatened to veto proposals to expand federal support for stem cell research. It also could affect Frist's standing with religious conservatives, amid speculation he could seek the White House in 2008.
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