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Public Statements

Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act Of 2007

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


STEM CELL RESEARCH ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - June 07, 2007)

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Every week, Mr. Speaker, medical journals, science periodicals, as well as the mainstream media, announce and report on yet another promise and advance in adult stem cell research and clinical application. Unlike embryonic stem cell research, which has had a poor track record, adult stem cell therapies are not only the present, they are the future as well. Cord blood stem cells, for example, are healing and mitigating a myriad of diseases today and promising research that suggests better therapies to come.

Let me just say a word about embryo destroying stem cell research. It has at least three strikes against it. First, it has an incredible propensity to morph into tumors. Secondly, if embryonic stem cells are ever successful and transplanted into humans, embryonic stem cells carry an enormous proclivity for rejection. And third, embryonic stem cell research requires the killing of human embryos. If it ever worked, the limited supply of so-called spare embryos, and that's a very offensive word, let me just say. Those children who have been adopted from cryogenic tanks--snowflake babies--are a witness against this idea of saying somehow there's a spare embryo. But just take that for what it is. If it ever worked, there would be a near insatiable demand for freshly killed human embryos.

On that last point, let me ask my colleagues to consider what Dr. Robert Lanza, vice president of research and scientific development at Advanced Cell Technology said, and he said, ``creating that many lines,'' talking about to meet what would be the need, ``would require millions of embryos from IVF clinics.''

In the March 16, 2006, edition of Stem Cells, Civin and Rao calculated how many embryos would be needed for clinical applications, and they said that embryonic stem cell lines could reach into the millions if the therapies live up to their potential. Millions of human embryos would be killed. That's unconscionable.

So this is the tip of the iceberg. You are talking about spare embryos now in this debate but if it ever did work, especially when we have an ethical alternative that does work, but if it ever did work, it would mean requiring the killing of millions of embryos, and I don't think enough Members have looked forward enough to realize where this could take us. That is a brave new world. This is the tip of the iceberg today, and hopefully we will not go that way. We must do ethical stem cell research instead.

And let me say one last thing. The Bush administration doubled from 300 to 600 million dollars the amount of money that we are spending on stem cell research. We are passionately in favor of stem cell research, but only the ethical kind.

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, in early January, a team of scientists from Wake Forest University and Harvard Medical School announced a historic breakthrough: a new readily available source of life-saving stem cells derived exclusively from amniotic fluid.

The Washington Post called these highly ethically derived pluripotent stem cells ``highly versatile and readily available.''

Newsweek said, ``A new era begins. Stem cells derived from amniotic fluid show great promise in the lab and may end the divisive ethical debate once and for all because the amniotic fluid stem cells are pluripotent, able to transform into cells representing each of the three major kinds of tissues found in the body.''

And ABC News pointed out that these stem cells can be taken from amniotic fluid with no harm to either the mother or her unborn child.

Earlier this week, I met with the Wake Forest University researcher, Dr. Anthony Atala, who led the team credited with this extraordinary study. Dr. Atala made it absolutely clear that these amniotic stem cells are pluripotent and that this research, along with numerous other remarkable initiatives in regenerative medicine, are progressing robustly.

Mr. Speaker, in April, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that cord blood stem cells, not embryonic stem cells, were transplanted into 15 patients diagnosed with Type I diabetes and resulted in 13 becoming completely insulin-free.

We all know about the New York Times and the other news media carrying the surprise development that's in today's papers.

Finally, let me say, Mr. Speaker, recently Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Catholic Conference compiled a comprehensive list of what he calls New Reasons for Hope, 111 recent developments published since Congress's stem cell votes of 2006. It is filled with one breakthrough after another, all attributed to adult stem cells, cord blood, amniotic fluid and the like. That's where the hope is, not in destroying embryos so as to derive their stem cells.

Vote ``no'' on this bill.

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