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Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I had spoken about this when we reconvened several weeks ago, that it is my hope that Congress, the Senate specifically, will take up legislation which I have introduced which would authorize the use of Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Embryonic stem cell research holds enormous potential. You take the embryos which are the most flexible of all of the stem cells and they can replace diseased parts of the body and they offer promise of a veritable fountain of youth.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said the Executive order issued by President Obama was invalid. But Congress has the authority to legislate to cure any defect. The case is on appeal to the circuit court, and a stay has been issued. But the scientists are very apprehensive, as they testified before the Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee. There are some 200 projects with some $200 million involved.

It is not a constitutional matter. It is a matter of statutory interpretation on the existing statute. But to the extent there is any ambiguity, this is something which we ought to address and we ought to address promptly because it is a life-and-death matter. As long as the litigation is pending in the Federal court, the scientists do not know which way to turn. So they have made their point very clear.

The case could go on for a very protracted period of time when you have to file briefs, have argument, and a decision in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Then a possible petition for certiorari could take a matter of years. With the ideological issues involved, who knows what the final outcome would be in the judicial system. But that can all be put to rest by legislation.

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