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Smith Votes Against Life-Destroying Stem Cell Bill

Location: Washington, DC

Smith Votes Against Life-Destroying Stem Cell Bill

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), author of the historic "Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005," voted today against legislation that would allocate federal funding for research that destroys human embryos, and called for federal efforts to be focused on ethical stem cell research instead, where major advancements have been made already.

While the bill passed, the vote total shows it does not have enough support to overcome a veto from President Bush and become law.

"On Sunday a team of scientists from Wake Forest University and Harvard Medical School announced the stunning news that they had discovered a new, readily available source of potentially life saving stem cells derived exclusively from amniotic fluid. For all of us who passionately support expanding ethical stem cell research to effectuate cures and mitigate disease, news of this breakthrough was very encouraging," Smith said during House consideration of H.R. 3, where he decried the abundance of misinformation surrounding the debate over stem cell research and called for federal resources to go to effective, ethical stem cell research.

H.R. 3 mandates the use of federal tax dollars to destroy human embryos in order to use stem cells derived from those embryos for research. Embryonic stem cell research is already legal in the U.S. and is being conducted at research facilities across the country. H.R. 3 seeks to expand taxpayer funding of embryo-destroying research, a practice to which millions of taxpayers object.

"Embryonic stem cell proponents demand that tens of thousands of perfectly healthy human embryos be destroyed for taxpayer-funded research, despite the fact that there have been no successful treatments of human ailments anywhere in the world with embryonic stem cells," said Smith.

Embryonic stem cell research has yet to produce a single cure in humans. In contrast, research using stem cells found without destroying human embryos has proven successful in treating 72 different diseases and conditions. These non-controversial adult stem cells can be found in amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood, fat tissue, spleen tissue, nasal cavity tissue, bone marrow, and places in the human body. A law Smith authored, the "Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005," authorized $265 million for cord blood and bone marrow stem cell programs including a new, nationwide program to collect, research and help disseminate these vital stem cells.

During the debate, Smith pointed to "snowflake babies" as evidence that these embryos are not the "throwaways" as supporters of embryonic stem cell research would argue. "Snowflake babies" are the leftover embryos that embryonic stem cell supporters would use for research. They are tiny lives created for in vitro fertilization, but their parents have chosen not to implant them and bring them into their family. Instead, they were implanted and carried to term by their adoptive mother. There are currently 110 young children living in this world today as a result of this process.

"On numerous occasions I've had the privilege of meeting some of those snowflake children, all of whom were adopted while they were still in their embryonic stage. Believe me, watching snowflakes children laugh, smile and act—well, like kids—underscores the fact that they are every bit as human and alive and precious as any other child. We should be promoting that life, not trying to destroy it," Smith said.

Smith concluded, "Lost in the hype by proponents of embryo killing stem cell research is the fact that embryonic stem cells have an enormous proclivity to grow into tumors and are likely to trigger an immune response if they are ever transplanted into a human. Writing in Scientific American, Robert Lanza, medical director of Advanced Cell Technology, an advocate of embryonic stem cell research admitted that the likelihood of immune rejection may ‘require millions' of embryos to be destroyed. Is that the future you want to promote with the DeGette bill? Millions of human embryos killed?"

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