SANTA FE — A bill allowing human embryonic stem cell research in New Mexico was approved Thursday by the Senate.

Under the bill, couples with leftover embryos at in-vitro fertilization clinics could donate them for research rather than have them discarded by the clinics.

“I just want to give these couples another option other than destroying them,” said Sen. John Ryan, R-Albuquerque, who sponsored the legislation.

He said his late mother-in-law had suffered from Alzheimer’s.

“It’s one of the worst diseases we have,” he said. “What it does to the family is one of the hardest things a family will have to go through.”