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Dr. Coburn Applauds President Bush's Pledge to Veto

Location: Washington, DC

Dr. Coburn Applauds President Bush's Pledge to Veto

Says stem cell bill promotes false hope and false choices

July 18, 2006

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), M.D., a practicing physician who has used stem cell therapies in his medical practice, released the following statement today regarding his vote against H.R. 810, a bill to authorize taxpayer-funded destructive experimentation on viable human life.

"History will vindicate President Bush's veto of this bill on the basis of science and ethics. In fact, the actual science of stem cell research has already overtaken the debate in Washington. Scientists are discovering that the most promising avenues of stem cell research do not require the destruction of viable human life. In fact, stem cell therapies derived from non-embryonic sources are treating more than 70 diseases, while embryonic stem research has produced zero therapies."

"President Bush understands that is morally reprehensible to force taxpayers to finance the destruction of human life, particularly when science is demonstrating that ethical and non-destructive forms of stem cell research can produce the same and better cures. Blocking this bill will do nothing to halt the true march of science, which is toward adult stem cell therapies.

"President Bush's veto will also have zero affect on private investments into both embryonic and adult stem cell research. In the real world, money follows success and it is important for the public to understand that private research dollars are flowing toward adult stem cell and germ cell research because it holds much more promise than embryonic stem cell research.

"What President Bush's veto will stop, however, is a step toward a brave new world of human experimentation and, eventually, cloning. Many studies have shown that embryonic stem cell research will never produce cures unless it is combined with human cloning because cloning appears to be the best, and perhaps only, way to prevent the body from rejecting transplanted heart, nerve or other tissue. This veto will also reaffirm the value of every human life at any stage. By calling for the taxpayer-funded destruction of human life that will be ‘thrown away anyway' the supporters of this bill have cheapened the value of all life, particularly lives that are fragile due to age, defect, disease or disability.

"Finally, it is the height of arrogance for politicians who support this bill to claim they are standing on the shoulders of persecuted scientists through the ages when many supporters of embryonic stem cell research are themselves peddling false hope and superstition. Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman put it well when she said in 2004: ‘Some of the public pronouncements in the field of stem cell research come close to over-promising at best and delusional fantasizing at worst.' Lord Winston, one of the most prominent embryonic-stem-cell researchers in the United Kingdom, has also said that hopes for cures had been distorted by arrogance and spin. Winston said in 2005: ‘I view the current wave of optimism about embryonic stem cells with growing suspicion.'

"Supporters of this bill have also promoted a false choice by claiming that stem cell research will grind to a halt without federal subsidies. As the supporters of the bill themselves highlighted, some of the greatest scientific discoveries in human history occurred not only without government support but in the face of tremendous persecution. Galileo never received federal subsidies but the truth of his scientific claims prevailed. Today's stem cell researchers face no such opposition and, in fact, are already being subsidized. Embryonic stem cell research has received $500 million in taxpayer funds in the past ten years. The greater threat to scientific inquiry in today's world is Washington hype and spin, which was infamously displayed in 2004 when one politician promised that H.R. 810 would make paralyzed ‘people get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.'

"Lawmakers, by and large, are more skilled at writing laws than interpreting science. Our core responsibility, therefore, is to not set legal precedents in any field, scientific or otherwise, that future generations will deeply regret. Because of Congress' knowledge gap in this field many lawmakers have misunderstood the genuine scientific consensus on stem cell research. The so-called consensus in favor of embryonic stem cell research is not based on irrefutable scientific conclusions, but natural scientific curiosity and, more importantly, a desire for research subsidies, grants and perhaps earmarks. The true consensus is about money, not science. Few intelligent scientists will turn down free money from unsuspecting politicians."


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