Clinton Pledges to Lift Ban on Stem Cell Research as President
Hillary Clinton said today that science, not narrow ideology, should drive our national research agenda, and pledged to lift the ban on ethical embryonic stem cell research. At a conversation at Dartmouth College in Hanover, Clinton was joined by two New Hampshire families with personal experiences with illnesses and disabilities that could potentially be cured or helped by stem cell research, as well as the Associate Chief of Neurology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
Clinton discussed the potential of stem cell research to both save lives and keep the United States on the cutting-edge of scientific advancement. She argued that ideology should never get in the way of scientific progress.
"It's time to unlock the potential of stem cell research and put an end to the backwards and restrictive policies of this administration," Clinton said. "Our scientists have been set back years in the race for life-saving cures because they've been held back by a narrow ideology that rejects sound science. As President, I will lift the ban on ethical embryonic stem cell research and allow our scientists to pursue treatments that could help millions of Americans."
Over 100 million Americans could benefit from the advancements that come from stem cell research. Although a majority of Americans support stem cell research, President Bush has placed severe restrictions on funding. Last year, the President vetoed the bipartisan Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act that overwhelmingly passed Congress, and he has vowed to veto a new version of the bill passed earlier this month with broad support.
Twenty-three year old Laura Clark of Antrim, and her mother Kathleen, joined Senator Clinton today. Laura was a young nursing student at the University of New Hampshire when she was involved in a car accident that left her with a severe spinal cord injury. Laura said that she finds the current restrictions on research to be "extremely frustrating."
Alex Walter, 10, of Londonderry, was accompanied to the event by his parents Steve and Kathy, and his sister Leah. Alex has had Type 1 Diabetes since he was four.
"Alex is a strong kid but this is hard for anyone to deal with," said his dad Steve Walter, who is a registered Republican. "We test his blood 10 times a day, and of course, there are insulin injections. I worry about the next 40 or 50 years of his life. I want to see a cure for my son and I think stem cell research might lead us there. I'm angry that under this Administration we have not been able to move forward."
The scientific and medical communities have lobbied for funding to pursue research on both adult and embryonic stem cells. Researchers estimate that within five years we could make major strides towards curing Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury, strokes and heart attacks, diabetes, ALS, and Huntington's disease.
Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, a professor of neurology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center who treats ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) patients, strongly supports expanded funding. "There is no cure for Lou Gehrig's Disease and only one medication that can treat it," said Cohen. "It's discouraging that there is such limited funding from the National Institutes of Health. It's unfortunate that we haven't been able to progress faster -- there are so many potential treatment opportunities for ALS that can result from stem cell research."
As a long-time advocate of healthcare and scientific research, Senator Clinton is committed to seeing that stem cell research moves forward. She voted in favor of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, and has also worked to expand the budget of the National Institutes of Health.