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Government Leaders on Abortion

   
Congressman Bart Stupak
Congressman
Bart Stupak

STEM CELL RESEARCH
 

On January 11, 2007, the House of Representatives passed HR 3, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, by a vote of 253-174. This legislation would allow federal funds to be used for all aspects of research on embryonic stem cells. I did not support this legislation. I wish to share with you my view on embryonic stem cell research.

Let me be clear, I support stem cell research using adult, cord bloods, and amniotic stem cells. I do not, however, support destroying life in the name of research. I believe that embryos, as human life, should be treated and valued with the same respect as you and me.

H.R. 3 fails to address the most basic, essential, ethical question of when does life begin? And when should life, including human embryos, be open to experimentation and scientific research? As an elected Representative of the people, I have been cloaked with America’s legislative responsibility. With this responsibility, I am entrusted to determine the ethical and moral boundaries of scientific research and to determine what value America places on human life.

I believe Congress’s work must reflect America’s belief that all life has value from the human embryo to those in the twilight of their life. Congress must not legislate “short cuts” for one life over another, which this legislation does. Where do we, as a nation, draw the ethical and moral line on scientific research as to when life begins? At which stage of human life are we willing to sacrifice one life to promote the life of another?

The good intentions of the proponents of H.R. 3 do not answer these questions. The proponents do not allow Congress, as America’s elected Representatives, to draw the ethical and moral line for human life. Under H.R. 3, when do embryos become human life? After 40 hours? After 2 days? H.R. 3 is silent on when embryos become human life - it doesn’t specify how long these embryos are allowed to grow before they are killed - 2 days, 5 days, 14 days, or more!

In addition H.R. 3 is not necessary. Human embryonic stem cell research is completely legal today in the private sector. Embryonic stem cell research is eligible for state funding in several states, including California and New Jersey, and is funded through millions in private dollars. Since August 2001, 128 stem cell lines have been created. Also, the president’s current policy allows for limited federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. The National Institute of Health (NIH) spent an estimated $38 million on embryonic stem cell research in Fiscal Year 2006. Despite this investment, embryonic stem cell research remains unproven. Not a single therapy has been developed from embryonic stem cell research. Instead of cures, embryonic stem cell research has led to tumors and deaths in animal studies. There have been no published treatments in human patients using embryonic stem cells.

While the promise of embryonic stem cells is questionable, the promise of adult stem cell research is being realized today – adult stem cells are being used today to save lives. Recognizing this, the National Institute of Health will spend $568 million in Fiscal Year 2006 on adult stem cell research. Adult stem cells are being used today in clinical trials and in clinical practice to treat 72 diseases including, Parkinson’s disease, Spinal Cord injury, Juvenile Diabetes, brain cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma, heart damage, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis, stroke, and sickle cell anemia.

I am committed to funding scientific research that will unlock the origins of diseases and develop cures. We cannot let science leap-frog our ethics, our morals, and our responsibility to protect human life at every stage of development.



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