Government Leaders on Abortion
REMARKS AGAINST CASTLE BILL
Statement in Opposition to HR 810
Make no mistake, Mr. Speaker, I support aggressive stem cell
research and the judicious application of stem cells to mitigate and
That’s why I sponsored the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of
2005, which is likely to pass after the debate on this bill.
That’s why I strongly support pouring millions of dollars in federal
funds to support adult and cord blood stem cells research. To
find cures. To alleviate suffering. To inspire
well-founded hope. To do it all in a way that respects the
sanctity and dignity of human life.
The largely untold story in America today – the great big secret
missed until now by many in the major media – are the extraordinary
success stories of cord blood and adult stem cells.
Yesterday, a 19 year old young man named Keonne Penn was here to
tell his story of being cured of Sickle Cell Anemia. After
multiple strokes and being told he would not live much longer, he
was treated with cord blood stem cells. He said, “If it wasn’t
for cord blood, I’d probably be dead by now. It’s a good thing
I found a match – it saved my life.”
Stephen Sprague, a 57 year old man who was cured of Leukemia said,
“I was lucky to find a cord blood match…”
22 year old Jacklyn Albanese, who just graduated from Rutgers in New
Jersey and was also cured of Leukemia said, “If it wasn’t for the
New York Blood Center I have no idea what kind of shape I’d be in
right now. I’m thankful for them and all the new research
being put into cord blood transplants.”
These are the stories of what is working right now. Ethical
stem cell research has cured patients and has shown the ability to
generate any cell type necessary for potential treatments, but with
the Castle bill, we are talking about killing human embryos instead.
I strongly oppose the Castle bill because it will use federal funds
to kill perfectly healthy human embryos to derive stem cells.
Human embryos have inherent value – they are not commodities or
things or just tissue. Human embryos are human lives at their
most vulnerable beginning stage and deserve respect. Parents
of human embryos are custodians of the young, not owners of “human
property”, and the public policy we craft should ensure that the
best interests of newly created human life is protected and
The Castle bill embraces the misinformed notion that so-called
leftover embryos – a grossly misleading and dehumanizing term in and
of itself—are just going to be destroyed anyway and poured down the
That is simply not true.
The cryogenically frozen male and female embryos that the genetic
parents may feel are no longer needed for implanting in the genetic
mother are of infinite value to an adoptive mother who may be
sterile or otherwise unable to have a baby.
The Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, for example, has facilitated
the adoption of 96 formerly frozen embryos, with more adoptions in
the works. I’ve met some of those kids, who are not leftovers.
Despite spending years of their lives in "frozen orphanages," these
children today are just as human and alive and full of promise as
any other children. So don’t, Mr. Castle, stand up here and
tell us these wonderful children are throwaways.
Even though the whole idea that these early human beings “are going
to be thrown away anyway” is simply not true, that kind of rationale
for research is deeply troubling. Indeed, civilized cultures
have systems in place to protect patients and the practice of
medicine from that type of exploitation. Organ donation may not
cause or hurry a patient's death. We do not allow research on or use
organs from death row prisoners who "are going to die anyway".
The infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, which studied people who
where supposedly going to get sick and die anyway, has been rightly
rejected by history because that is not a valid reason for
experimentation. We refuse research on terminally ill patients,
unless it clearly has potential to help the patient. Killing
the youngest members of the human family, who can and are adopted,
in experiments undermines the foundations of so many of our legal
and ethical protections of people in research. Medical
research ethics should not be guided by the ends justify the means.
We would be wise to refuse to fund this over-hyped and morally
suspect expedition promoted by big BIO and those who want
experimentation without limits. Adult stem cell research
works. Embryo research has not. Embryo research results
in the death of a human embryo. Adult stem cell does not.
Taxpayer funds should focus on research that is saving lives today,
not on unethical research that has not cured anyone. Let's
continue to guide our country's scientific exploration by ethical
application of cutting edge science.