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Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act Of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

STEM CELL RESEARCH ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - April 11, 2007)


Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I again thank my friend and colleague from Iowa, Senator Harkin, for his steadfast leadership in this extraordinarily important issue. We are full of hope this afternoon about the votes here in the Senate. I welcome just a few moments to express my own views about where I think we are and what I think the issues really are before the Senate.

For years, many of us have fought the same battle, the battle to give those suffering or injured every ethical option for new cures. For those speaking on the Senate floor, perhaps little changes from one year's debate to the next. We still speak of hope. We still speak of dreams denied when those hopes are dashed. We still speak of our belief that medical research should be valued.

But for those who listen to our debate, a year can make all the difference in the world. For a young man or woman bravely serving their country, a year can make the difference between vigorous active service and life in a wheelchair or a brain injury from a war wound. For someone fighting the long and lonely battle against Alzheimer's disease, a year can make the memory of a beloved spouse or child a little fainter, a little more distant. For a patient battling against the tremors of Parkinson's disease, a year can mean more and more life activities fade out of reach.

If overturning the administration's unwarranted restrictions on stem cell research brings just one breakthrough, just one of the many that our best scientists believe are possible, that breakthrough can mean all the difference in the world for the patients who benefit. They cannot wait another year, or another day, for the help stem cell research can bring, and we should not wait in aiding them. We must take action here and now to end these unnecessary and harmful restrictions on lifesaving research.

Continuing the administration's restrictions means the gap between what scientists could do and what they are allowed to do grows even wider.

Continuing the restrictions means our Nation's best scientists will go on having to waste precious time on pointless redtape and bureaucratic obstacles, time that should be spent on the search for new cures.

Continuing the restrictions means having to tell the patients who are counting on the promise of stem cell research: Wait just a little longer, dream just a little less, hope just a little more faintly.

The Senate must act, just as the House has already, to unlock the potential of stem cell research.

When the Congress has approved this needed legislation, we must turn our attention to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and urge the President of the United States not to veto the legislation that gives so much hope to so many.

Mr. President, just an extraordinary statement and comment from the Nation's leading scientist, Dr. Zerhouni, who is the head of the National Institutes of Health:

From my standpoint as NIH director, it is in the best interest of our scientists, our science, and our country that we find ways and the nation finds a way to allow the science to go full speed across adult and embryonic stem cells equally.

This is the statement of the head of the National Institutes of Health, an extraordinary scientist and researcher himself. It couldn't be said more clearly and more compellingly.

Finally, to remind ourselves what this really is all about--because it is basically about individuals--here are two extraordinary soldiers who served in Iraq. James Crossby, Winthrop, MA, is now in a wheelchair because of a damaged spinal column--others could have similar situations from their own States--and Sgt Jason Wittling, Marine Corps, injured in Karbala, again with spinal cord injuries. And that is one of the areas where there is such great hope.

Finally, one of the most moving letters I have received in the time I have been in the Senate was on this issue, from Lauren Stanford, from Plymouth, MA--15 years old. She wrote just after watching the President of the United States speak on this issue when he set up the regime on which we have all commented, which limits the great possibilities we have talked about during the course of this debate. This is what she said:

That night--

Referring to the night the President talked--

President Bush talked about protecting the innocent. I wondered then: what about me? I am truly innocent in this situation. I did nothing to bring my diabetes on; there is nothing I can do to make it any better. All I can do is hope for a research breakthrough and keep living the difficult, demanding life of a child with diabetes until that breakthrough comes. How, I asked my parents, is it more important to throw discarded embryos into the trash than it is to let them be used to hopefully save my life--and to give me back a life where I don't have to accept a constant, almost insane level of hourly medical intervention as ``normal''? How could my nation do this to me?

That is the issue which Lauren Stanford has put before the Senate. Hopefully she will get an overwhelming, bipartisan answer this afternoon when the roll is called.


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