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Keeping the Promise of Stem Cell Research

CAP Statement on the Passage of the Stem Cell Enhancement Act

Today, the Senate joined the House in supporting stem cell research, passing the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act with 63 votes. Scientists have shown us the promise of this research, using stem cells to help paralyzed mice walk and to create T-cells which could be used to fight AIDS. We hope that the President will keep this promise and fulfill the will of the American people by signing this legislation into law.

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act updates old federal policy to reflect new scientific developments. Under President Bush’s policy, only 21 stem cell lines are eligible for federal research funding, and all of them have been contaminated by mouse feeder cells and cannot be used in humans. Researchers have since developed techniques to derive uncontaminated and better stem cell lines, which scientists in other countries are already using. The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act gives American scientists access to the best research tools available, by expanding eligibility for federal funding to research using uncontaminated stem cell lines derived from excess embryos in fertility clinics.

We have a moral obligation to provide our scientists with the most effective tools to combat medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), diabetes, and spinal cord injuries. We were the nation that cured polio, the nation that developed penicillin, and we can be the nation to realize the promise of embryonic stem cells, if we support our researchers. Currently, however, our scientists are forced to use inferior, older stem cell lines, allowing foreign scientists using newer, better lines to close the research gap. From 2002 to 2004, the number of articles on embryonic stem cell research written by scientists in the US dropped from about one-third to around a quarter of the stem cell articles published.

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act allows us to pursue research effectively and ethically, in accordance with the shared values of more than 70 percent of the American people who support stem cell research. There are more than 400,000 excess embryos in fertility clinics throughout the country, many of which will be discarded. Shouldn’t we allow people to donate these embryos to research that could lead to cures for medical conditions and injuries that affect more than 100-million Americans?

Scientists have done their part in demonstrating the promise of embryonic stem cell research. The House and Senate have kept that promise by passing the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. We hope that the President will not use the first veto of his presidency to break it.

Read CAPAF Statement on the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act

  • Stem Cell Statement (PDF) from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, by Jonathan Moreno and Sam Berger, July 17, 2006