The U.S. Senate has debated two very different bills on stem cell research. One bill, submitted by Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, calls for the federal funding of research that kills human embryos.
The second bill, the “Hope Offered through Principled and Ethical Stem Cell Research Act”, offered by senators Coleman and Isakson, advances stem cell research without crossing ethical lines and prioritizes the science that is working to treat patients now.
As a committed pro-life advocate, I strongly opposed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 sponsored by Senator Reid, and I support President Bush’s intention to veto this legislation. With many Americans believing as I do that killing human embryos is immoral, I do not believe that the federal government should use taxpayer money to fund research that would do so.
Supporters of embryonic stem cell research argue that this research only kills human embryos that will be discarded anyway. But there are many cases where families have adopted or given birth to children from frozen embryos. These children are affectionately referred to as “snowflake babies” because they started as frozen embryos, and each child is as unique as every snowflake that falls from the sky.
In addition, adult stem cell research has shown far more medical potential than embryonic stem cells have. Adult stem cells have been used to perform at least 72 successful treatments for disorders and diseases, such as brain cancer, ovarian cancer, Parkinson’s disease, stroke damage and sickle cell anemia. Researchers have shown that patients suffering from chronic heart failure have experienced significant improvement when the patient’s adult stem cells are added along with bypass surgery.
I voted in favor of the HOPE Act because it pursues alternative stem cell methods, such as adult stem cell research, that do not destroy human embryos. This bill makes alternative forms of stem cell research eligible for funding – including research on stem cells drawn from adults, umbilical-cord blood, amniotic fluid, placentas and other non-embryonic sources. Most importantly, this bill prohibits the use of federal funding for research that harms or destroys human embryos and allows the Secretary of Health and Human Service to establish guidelines for research on embryos that may have died from natural causes.
The bottom line in the debate on stem cells is that taxpayers should not have to fund the destruction of human embryos when alternative and more successful methods of research exist. I believe we can develop a common sense policy that will meet the delicate balance between the need for advanced medical research and the need to respect human life, without compromising our values. I know there is great medical potential in stem cell research, and I believe scientists can find alternative methods of research without feeling pressure to compromise the moral values they hold so dear.
I am interested in hearing your thoughts on stem cell research. Please contact me with your ideas at any of my state offices or at my Washington office by mail at U.S. Senator David Vitter, U.S. Senate, 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510, or by phone at 202-224-4623. You can also reach me on the web at http://vitter.senate.gov.
David Vitter serves Louisiana in the United States Senate.