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Capital Hill Watch Alert

Senate Debates Stem Cell Research Bills  

The Senate on July 17, 2006, will begin debate on three measures involving stem-cell research with votes to occur no later than July 18, 2006.

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act H.R. 810 

The House of Representative approved the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act [H.R. 810] (To view the full text of the legislation visit: Full Text of Legislation) on May 24, 2005, by a 238-194 vote.  The measure would provide for stem cell research federal funds for the destruction of human embryos created in fertility clinics.  

H.R. 810 

If used in medical treatments for patients these cells from these embryos would not match genetically and would be subject to rejection. Also, unlikely to offer credible material for studying disease are in-vitro fertilization (IVF) embryos that are created from healthy donors for pro-creation. Furthermore, reportedly to harbor chromosome defects that will possibly render them nonviable are many embryos stored long term in IVF clinics.

The Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act, S. 2754 

The measure would promote without creating or knowingly harming embryos the development of embryo-like stem cells [S. 2754] (To view the full text of the legislation visit: Full Text of Legislation ). 

S. 2754 

To develop ethical sources of embryonic-like, or “pluripotent” stem cells -- cells able to turn into most of the body's fully mature “somatic” cells is the purpose of this measure. 

Reportedly, adult stem cells display pluripotent characteristics when directed with specific chemicals. To regress to more primitive stages adult cells can be genetically “reprogrammed.”  Also, it has been suggested that human life may or may not be created by altered forms of cloning, called Altered Nuclear Transfer (ANT) or Oocyte (egg)-Assisted Reprogramming (OAR).  However, it appears the ANT/OAR method allows the manipulation of human life and attempts to redefine the intrinsic value of a human being.  Genetic defects might be introduced in the cloning process (ANT/OAR) that would create embryonic ‘artifacts' able to yield embryonic stem cells in theory. And though  supporters of this process  claim that such artifacts would not involve human life they should be viewed as a mutated human embryo. 

The Fetus Farming Prohibition Act, S. 3504

The bill would bar the acceptance of tissue from an embryo implanted or developed in a woman or animal for research purposes. [S. 3504] (To view the full text of the legislation visit: Full Text of Legislation). 

Each measure will need 60 votes to pass in the 100-seat chamber under the agreement by which the bills will be considered. And not permitted will be amendments.  Unless President Bush persuades more Republican senators to oppose the bill, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act H.R. 810 could receive between 68 to 70 votes.   Furthermore, it appears all three measures will receive the necessary votes to pass in the Senate. 

S. 3504

Adult stem cells and cord blood provide a safe, effective, and affordable method for the treatment of individuals effected by a disability or disease.
 

Currently, embryonic stem cells produce tumors in animal studies making them unsafe for human patients to use.  Also, this difficulty would not be resolved by using cloned embryos to derive stem cells.   

Daunting challenges that may keep them from ever becoming a regular part of medical treatment are faced by embryonic-stem-cell research and therapeutic cloning. For example, the likelihood that the body would reject embryonic stem cells as in the case of a transplanted organ, is a major hurdle to use embryonic-stem cells in regenerative medical treatments taken from leftover in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment indicates an article in the May 2004 Scientific American.

If one is to gain some hindsight into which therapy could possibly be more successful, adult stem cell or embryonic stem cell research, they should just examine which has received the most private funding. Since the majority of scientific findings are favorable for adult stem cell research, private investors and donors are investing their money in this area while others call for the government funding for embryonic stem cell research.   Furthermore, another reason why many researchers are proponents of embryonic stem cell research which has not produced a single treatment for a single patient is simple— financial gains. When a patient is treated with adult stem cells, the individual's own cells are grown and given back to the individual.  As a result the stem cell line created is not owned by anyone.  On the other hand, however, by creating and patenting embryonic stem cell lines, an economic bonanza for researchers could result.  Since economic resources are finite, and therapeutic cloning and embryonic stem cell research are morally and ethically wrong, adult stem cell research is the best avenue to pursue in the treatment of disease based on mounting scientific research.   

S. 3504 is the only measure of the three bills that serves the interest of human life and thus should be supported.

Additional Reading: 

The False Promises of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Science and Ethics at Crucial Crossroads

Embryo research bills to hit Senate floor July 17

What Can You Do?    

Urge your senators  TO SUPPORT the Fetus Farm Prohibition Act (S. 354).    

Contact Information:    

Capitol Hill Switchboard Numbers: 202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121 (Those numbers will direct you to the Capitol Hill operator. Ask for your senator's office.)    

To go to your senators' websites, find their E-mail or to find out who your senators are... http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm    

Addressing Correspondence:     

The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510  

Dear Senator (last name):  

 

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