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Stem Cells and the Voting Rights Act

Location: Washington, DC

STEM CELLS AND THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT -- (Senate - July 12, 2006)

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I make a couple of points based on what we just heard.

The first has to do with stem cells. As the Presiding Officer knows, I am a practicing physician. I am still delivering babies on weekends and our breaks. I am concerned in our country because we are letting emotional issues far override what the science today says on stem cells.

We have a lot of people who have significant diseases who have been convinced that the only way those diseases will ever be solved is to use embryonic stem cells. The dishonesty in the debate is concerning to me as a physician because the real breakthroughs have not been with embryonic stem cells.

There are now 70 treatments being utilized every day in this country from stem cells derived from core blood and adult blood stem cells. There also is wonderful new research in the last year that says you can gain exactly the same pluripotent--a cell that will do anything--from germ cells, from altered nuclear transfer, from three different mechanisms to get the exact same ability to cure diseases and never destroy the first embryo.

We do not hear that in the debate. We do not hear the truth of what the science is showing us, and we do not recognize that even though the Federal Government is funding, in a limited amount, embryonic stem cell research, the fact is, where the private money is going--it is not going to embryonic stem cell research, it is going to other pluripotent stem cell research that doesn't have anything to do with embryos.

This debate, as a physician and as a scientist, concerns me because it is not based on facts or on truth. For us to continue to belie the fact of what the science is showing us today creates a false impression based on politics and false hope. There is great hope for people with diabetes, there is great hope for people who have neurologic injury, but it is not coming from embryonic stem cell research; it is coming from pluripotent stem cell research outside of that. During the debate next week, I plan on making that point. I am going to counter every point that belies science and does not recognize the true facts out there today.

The final comment I will make is that the Voting Rights Act does not expire for a year and a half. We ought to get it right. We ought to make sure everyone is protected in this country in terms of the right to access. To say we have to do that right now, even though we are probably going to do it, to claim that we do not want to do it is a false claim. No. 2, we have plenty of time to do it even if we do not get it done this year. Those are important things for the American public to know and be aware of. No one in this Senate thinks we should not reauthorize the Voting Rights Act. But we ought to do it in a way that represents the principles on which this country is founded and not the politics of the next election.

I yield the floor.

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