STEM CELL RESEARCH -- (House of Representatives - March 11, 2009)
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Mr. PENCE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
In a week that has already been overcome by a blizzard of legislative activity and news, I rise for two reasons today; number one is to commend the gentleman from New Jersey, whose passion for human rights, for human dignity, for the sanctity of life is in high relief on the floor today. I commend the gentleman for coming to the floor and bringing his passion and his knowledge to this issue in the wake of a profoundly disappointing decision by the President of the United States of America. So I commend the gentleman.
My second point is to simply say that what was most disappointing to me about the President's decision in authorizing the use of taxpayer dollars to fund research that involves the destruction of human embryos is that it seemed to me, Madam Speaker, to be a moment where the President and his party were putting ideology over science. I say that grounded in the notion that that was an accusation that was leveled at those of us on the side of life in the last 8 years, those of us who believed that we ought not to use the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use it to fund research that involves the destruction of human embryos for scientific purposes. But we were told that we were putting ideology--presumably our pro-life views--over science. But actually, science overcame the debate when, in 2007, nearly 7 full years after President George W. Bush had signed his executive order, and years after Republican majorities in this Congress had authorized tens of millions in increased Federal funding to the National Institutes for Health for ethical adult stem cell research, science came through.
As the gentleman just referred, the extraordinary breakthroughs of not one, but two scientific research teams in 2007 found that adult stem cells could be converted into stem cells that essentially were identical to embryonic stem cells through a process called induced pluripotent stem cell procedure. Now, this was a miracle of science. And I remember full well, I remember seeing a report on all the major television networks that said that science has rendered the debate over destructive embryonic stem cell research moot. It seemed as though science had stepped into one of the most difficult and contentious issues of our times and it had taken it off the table.
Because of these scientific breakthroughs, it would no longer be necessary to even consider using Federal taxpayers to fund research that destroys human embryos because--and the gentleman, I'm sure, will correct me, having forgotten more about this issue than I've learned--but I believe scientists found that by introducing a virus into adult stem cells, that they would convert into that highly dynamic mode, they would be induced to take the form of pluripotent stem cells, which scientists have long desired--and have, through private funding, appreciated the opportunity--to do research for the purpose of finding cures and therapies. And so it is not casually that I come to the floor today to say that I believe when President Obama signed an executive order authorizing the use of taxpayer dollars to fund stem cell research that involves the destruction of human embryos, that this administration was putting ideology over science.
I didn't hear a word this week about induced pluripotent stem cells. I heard no reference--I'm happy to stand corrected, Madam Speaker--but I heard no reference by the administration or any of its spokesmen, or by the President, to those extraordinary scientific breakthroughs which obviated the need to use my tax dollars and the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans to fund research that destroys human embryos.
So as I prepare to yield back to the gentleman, I come to the floor with really a heavy heart. I mean, I believe the sanctity of life is a central axiom of Western civilization. I believe that ending an innocent human life is morally wrong. But I also believe it is also morally wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of pro-life Americans and use it to fund abortion overseas or to fund research that involves the destruction of human embryos at home. But I found a new layer, Madam Speaker, of wrongness; it's also wrong to do it when it's completely unnecessary. It's wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use it to fund research that destroys human embryos when science itself, in the last year and a half, has made it completely unnecessary to do so. And so it was a moment where this administration put ideology over science.
My hope--and, frankly, my prayer--as we enter into this brave new world that could result in embryonic farms, that could result in ultimately setting us on a path where therapies are developed and, therefore, stem cells need to be cloned, we will no doubt hear, it is my hope and my prayer that science will continue to march forward and will overtake the practice of ideology in this Capitol and reaffirm the principle that human life is sacred, we ought not to use taxpayer dollars of pro-life Americans to destroy nascent human life, and most especially, when it is not scientifically necessary to do so to achieve the extraordinary advances that are taking place.
I commend the gentleman, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to speak.
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