Re: Oppose the Stem Cell Bill

I participated this morning at a news conference on Capitol Hill surrounded by about a dozen lively babies and toddlers. They were "Snowflake" babies - adopted from embryos.

There weren't many media there to record the smiles, the squirms, the dancing and other delightful antics of these children. Perhaps that is because it is too uncomfortable for people to face in person what we might understand intellectually. We were each once embryos. Every embryonic stem cell line being used for research today could have developed into a baby like the ones at this news conference. Instead, they were destroyed for science.

I was honored to stand with these Snowflake babies and their families and with colleagues, five of whom are medical doctors. I earned a Ph.D in Human Physiology and had advanced courses in embryology. I can state unequivocally that it is morally reprehensible and scientifically unnecessary to kill human embryos to provide raw fodder for scientific research.

For the vast majority of scientists and medical researchers, pluripotent stem cells hold the most promise for understanding human diseases and treating devastating conditions. That is because pluripotent stem cells have the capability of developing into every human tissue and organ and are long-lived. That is why they are coveted by scientists. Pluripotent stem cells were first isolated by destroying embryos in 1998. No one can know if pluripotent stem cells will produce more, better or different cures than adult stem cells. They haven't so far, but it's wrong for anyone to predict they will or won't. Scientists have been working with adult stem cells for more than thirty years. Scientists have been working with pluripotent stem cells from embryos for eight years. Only time and additional research will determine whether there will be more medical treatments for patients from adult stem cells or pluripotent stem cells. I have talked to the leading stem cell researchers in the country. Every scientist with an open mind studying stem cells believes that pluripotent stem cells have more potential simply because they can become every other tissue and organ in our bodies.

To some people, the manner in which pluripotent stem cells would be obtained under the Castle/DeGette bill H.R. 810 - by using taxpayers' dollars to kill a human embryo - is secondary to the hope for cures that they represent to sick and injured patients.

To me and millions of other Americans, deliberately taking the lives of innocent human embryos is an unacceptable trade-off. Looking at these children today - it's easy to understand why this is an unacceptable choice. Maybe that's why many in the media didn't come to this news conference to show Americans these children who were adopted as embryos. Those who support H.R. 810 talk about the sick people, but not the embryos who might become children. I can not forget the young children with Juvenile Diabetes that I meet who rely upon insulin pumps and face daunting complications and shortened life spans. I also can not forget that every single embryo under a microscope might have been one of the children who danced at the news conference this morning, or grow up to be the next Einstein or Beethoven.

Luckily, we as a society don't face the Hobson's choice of pursuing pluripotent stem cell research or protecting the lives of embryos. We can do both. A number of different scientists have now proven what I have argued for the past five years. It is scientifically unnecessary to destroy human embryos to obtain pluripotent stem cells.

The Bartlett/Santorum bill (H.R. 5526/S.2754) represents common ground into promising ways the federal government can support pluripotent stem cell research without sacrificing life for medicine. Pluripotent stem cell research is a type that doesn't sacrifice life for medicine

The Bartlett/Santorum bill will amend the Public Health Service Act to require NIH to conduct and support basic and applied research to develop techniques for the isolation, derivation, production, or testing of stem cells that have pluripotent qualities.

President Bush will sign the Bartlett/Santorum bill into law because it meets his ethical standards for promoting pluripotent stem cell research without the creation of human embryos for research purposes or discarding, destroying, or knowingly harming a human embryo or fetus.

I am proud of President Bush's unwavering defense of the sancitity of life. I am grateful for his support and the support of my colleagues for ethical pluripotent stem cell research.

The Senate and House are expected to approve the Bartlett/Santorum bill today. President Bush will sign it.

Tonight, all Americans can celebrate and be proud that thanks to President Bush's support and leadership, the government of the United States will be leading the pursuit of ethical pluripotent stem cell research.