FETUS FARMING PROHIBITION ACT OF 2006 -- (Senate - July 18, 2006)
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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I will vote in support of all three bills under consideration today, which together provide a framework for addressing the issue of stem cell research. This research holds the potential to unlock cures that could defeat deadly diseases and relieve tremendous human suffering. At the same time, one type of stem cell research, involving embryonic stem cells, has also raised serious ethical and moral concerns, both inside and outside the medical community. I believe the framework provided by the three bills before us today offers a way forward.
S. 2754 offers increased Federal funding and support for adult stem cell research and other types of stem cell research that do not involve the use of human embryos. Scientists believe this research holds tremendous potential, and I share their hope. Countless numbers are affected by the many diseases that this type of research may offer future cures.
In promoting stem cell research, one of the lines that must not be crossed is the intentional creation of human embryos for purposes of research rather than reproduction. A second bill before us, S. 3504, draws a line that says we in the United States will not abandon our values in pursuit of scientific progress. This bill bans the practice of what has been referred to as ``fetal farming.'' It makes it a Federal crime for researchers to use cells or fetal tissue from an embryo that was created for research purposes. This bill also makes it a Federal crime to attempt to use or obtain cells from a human fetus that was gestated in the uterus of a nonhuman animal. These provisions close important gaps in our existing laws, and I urge my fellow Senators to join me in supporting this bill.
It is important that we act now to address these issues because research involving embryonic stem cells is also proceeding outside the United States. Unfortunately, the intense focus on ethical and moral concerns that has driven the debate in America, as reflected in the President's Commission on Bioethics, is not always present in private industry and the scientific community in other parts of the world. I am concerned about the path that some of this unregulated research leads us down. Of particular concern is the potential for experimentation into human cloning. Our involvement through this legislation is another protection against sanctioning such practice within our own borders. I am concerned that ongoing research elsewhere may result in the routine acceptance of deeply troubling practices, in particular the intentional creation of human embryos for purposes of research rather than reproduction.
However, it doesn't have to be this way. The United States offers a climate for scientific and medical research because of the quality of our educational institutions, the strength of our economy, and the scope of our comprehensive legal and regulatory system for protection of intellectual property rights. The final bill before us, H.R. 810, will allow us to attract scientists to perform highly regulated embryonic stem cell research that will otherwise take place in an unregulated environment somewhere else. This bill authorizes Federal support for embryonic stem cell research but limits that support to scientists who use embryos originally created for reproductive purposes, and now frozen or slated for destruction by in vitro fertilization clinics. H.R. 810 requires that prior to even considering whether to donate unused embryos for research, the patient who is the source of the embryos must be consulted, and a determination must be made that these embryos would otherwise be discarded and would never be implanted in the patient or another woman. This provision ensures that patients with excess embryos will first consider the possibility of embryo adoption, and only if this option is rejected will the patient then be consulted concerning the possibility of embryo donation. A patient donating embryos that would otherwise remain frozen or be destroyed must give written informed consent, and H.R. 810 makes it illegal for anyone to offer any sort of financial or other inducement in exchange for this consent.
All of these carefully drawn rules contained in H.R. 810 do not exist in the status quo, and this sort of embryonic stem cell research remains largely unregulated in the private sector and in many parts of the scientific community overseas. Federal oversight that will come with approving this bill will allow us to ensure that this research does not expand into ethically objectionable ground in balancing the promise on the foreseeable horizon of stem cell research with the protection of human life. It should be clearly noted that this type of research will proceed with or without Federal approval, so I believe that it is best carried out under strict Federal guidelines and oversight. It is my hope that by offering limited Federal support in the context of the framework provided by the three bills before us today, we can realize the benefits of stem cell research while also drawing clear lines that reflect our refusal to sacrifice our ethical and moral values for the sake of scientific progress.