U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services to discuss his opposition to using taxpayer dollars to fund controversial embryonic stem cell research.
During his service in the House of Representatives, Wicker co-authored an amendment to the Fiscal Year 1996 Labor Health and Human Services Appropriations Act prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds to create human embryos for research, or support "any research in which" human embryos are harmed, destroyed, or subjected to risks not permitted for unborn children.
"This debate involves profound ethical and moral questions," said Wicker in his testimony before the committee. "This is a matter of conscience for me and millions of Americans who are deeply troubled by the idea that their taxpayer dollars may be used to destroy another human life when there are other proven techniques available."
The Dickey-Wicker language has remained the law of the land for 15 years. The amendment is at the heart of U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth's recent ruling prohibiting the National Institutes of Health from funding embryonic stem cell research under the administration's new guidelines.
"Federal funding is scarce, and I submit we should use limited taxpayer dollars on already proven research demonstrated in areas like adult stem cells," added Wicker.
Wicker pointed out that non-controversial adult stem cells -- not embryonic stem cells -- are the ones being used to help treat people today. The senator also discussed how scientists have discovered ways to reprogram adult stem cells to act like embryonic stem cells.
Wicker questioned, "If we can use adult stem cells, reprogram them to act like embryonic stem cells, and avoid the ethical challenges, then why would we not take that approach?"
Since Judge Lamberth's ruling, an appeals court has stayed the order temporarily until it can hear full arguments in the coming weeks.