Why We Have to Fight for Stem Cell Research (Sen. Tom Harkin)

Most Americans probably find it hard to believe we are still fighting to lift the ban on federal funding for stem cell research. A majority of voters understand the power of stem cell research. They’ve listened to the scientists. They’ve watched the House and Senate vote overwhelmingly during the last Congress to expand the Administration’s policy. Then they went to the polls in November, and more often than not, elected candidates who support stem cell research. So why are we still debating this?

The answer, unfortunately, is simple. President Bush used the first and, so far, only veto of his administration to reject last year’s stem cell bill. So we’re back once again, because stem cell research offers hope. Hope for people with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Hope for people with Parkinson’s. Hope for people with spinal cord injuries, diabetes, and cancer. And we are not giving up.

My nephew, Kelly, is one of the millions of Americans whose hopes depend on stem cell research. He has been a quadriplegic for 28 years, since suffering a spinal cord injury while serving in the U.S. Navy. I want to tell him and others the long wait is almost over. Later today the Senate will vote on S. 5, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. I am confident that a bipartisan majority will support this important legislation and send a clear message to the President that the country believes it is time for these arbitrary restrictions to be lifted.

As promised last year, we’re back and the voices of hope are stronger than ever for the more than 100 million Americans who have diseases that one day could be treated or cured with embryonic stem cell research. Let’s hope the President listens this time.