A bill allowing medical research on embryonic stem cells obtained through cloning narrowly cleared the Iowa Senate Wednesday after a debate that veered between coolly technical science and passionate appeals on both sides.

Democrats, who pushed the legislation to passage on a 26-24 vote, billed it as a critical step toward cutting-edge research benefiting thousands afflicted with chronic illnesses, including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. Embryonic stem cells, backers contend, could hold the key to breakthrough treatments.

This legislation is about making a clear choice. It is a clear choice between whether or not we are going to offer hope to thousands of Iowans who suffer with debilitating diseases and illness. says Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, the bill’s lead sponsor.

Rick Langel of Ankeny, whose 9-year-old daughter Amber has Type 1 diabetes, praised the Senate vote.

The bill would carve out an exception in Iowa’s 2002 ban on human cloning allowing researchers to use a specific cloning technique — “somatic cell nuclear transfer” — to create embryonic stem cells.

Attention now turns to the House, where another close vote is expected as early as next week.

However republicans charged the bill would create a loophole allowing full-blown human cloning, something that a vast majority of Iowans oppose. Others argued that cloned cells created for research purposes are human life even if they’re not allowed to develop.

Link [www.siouxcityjournal.com/articles/2007/02/15/news/legislature/867ec18fbd83cde686257283000cd79b.txt]