A majority of Swiss voters support a new law that will allow stem cells to be extracted from 7-day-old human embryos for research purposes.

The law, approved last December by the Swiss Parliament, was challenged by the Green Party and by anti-abortion groups, who collected enough signatures to force a nationwide referendum on the issue. After an aggressive campaign by the government to encourage citizens to vote in support of the law, 66% of voters backed the new law, which will take effect in March 2005.

The new law is stricter than the original bill proposed in Parliament. That original proposal would have allowed not only extraction of embryonic stem cells, but also the creation of embryos for therapeutic cloning. Fierce opposition led to a political compromise that removed the clause pertaining to cloning.

Under the new law, both members of a couple would need to give written permission to...

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