Every day scientists are breaking new ground in the study of stem cells and bringing new hope and possibility to finding cures for a variety of diseases. Parkinson's disease affects over one million Americans, and I am one of those patients. Parkinson's affects every day of my life.

When I was first diagnosed with this dreadful disease, I was told I would have been able to effectively manage my symptoms for a number of years. Unfortunately, in recent months, the symptoms have become more bothersome, and I have announced plans to retire at the end of this Congress. The decision to retire was a very sad one for me because I believe strongly in serving people.

But Parkinson's will not keep me down. I have been overwhelmed by the encouraging letters I have received by my constituents, colleagues and friends, veterans, and well-wishers from across the nation. I am heartened by your calls and emails.

I have said before that having Parkinson's has made me a better Congressman, and it's true. I know first hand what people go through when battling illness or injury. This is why it is so important to pass a bill that will allow us to perform research on more stem cell lines.

It is past time to allow researchers and doctors access to study these important cells. Because embryonic stem cells are the only cells that have the ability to turn into any cell in the body, their potential should not be ignored. They hold not just the potential to provide direct treatments and cures for today's debilitating injuries and illnesses, but they hold the key to unlocking our understanding of how the body works at the most fundamental level.