BOSTON, March 31 -- The Massachusetts House passed a bill Thursday night that would give scientists more freedom to conduct embryonic stem cell research in the state.
The House voted 117 to 37 to approve the measure, giving it enough votes to override an expected veto by Gov. Mitt Romney (R).
The Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill Wednesday.
The measure would allow scientists to create cloned embryos and extract their stem cells for research into the treatment and cure of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries and other conditions.
Under current state law, scientists interested in conducting stem cell research first need the approval of the local district attorney. The bill would remove that requirement, give the state Health Department some regulatory controls and ban cloning for reproductive purposes.
House Republicans led an unsuccessful bid Thursday to delay action on the legislation, with critics arguing that it crosses an ethical line.
Romney and some opponents of embryonic stem cell research say they support research using adult stem cells or leftover frozen embryos from fertility clinics, but oppose the creation of embryos.
Embryonic stem cells are derived from human embryos that are typically no more than a few days old. Some researchers see almost unlimited potential in those cells, which go on to develop into every kind of cell in the body, including liver cells and muscle.