Friday, May 20, 2005

Stem Cell Bills

While Senator Specter's bill has pretty much been buried, and will stay buried until the Judicial Nominees dust up settles (one way or the other), the House of Representatives has two bills up for a vote next week.

TheWashington Post indicates that 'dueling bills' were introduced, apparently to appease conservative "pro-lifers."

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., had agreed earlier to allow a vote as soon as next week on a bill by Reps. Mike Castle, R-Del., and Diana DeGette, D-Colo., to lift President Bush's 2001 ban on the use of federal dollars for research using any new embryonic stem cells lines.

But after Castle and other moderate Republicans angered conservatives by sponsoring polls in their districts on the issue, Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said they would pair the bill with a separate measure to encourage umbilical cord stem cell research.

To see the two House bills, go here. The bills are HR 596 and HR 819. The Castle-DeGette bill is clearly the one I favor because it lifts President Bush's ban on working with new stem cell lines. The other bill deals only with umbilical cord stem cell research, which has not been as fruitful.

The vote next week is timely because Korean researchers are claiming an important breakthrough.

Because the stem cells come from embryos that are clones of individuals, they would be exact genetic matches and less likely to be rejected by a patient's immune system. Scientists want to obtain such stem cells from patients with certain disorders and illnesses to study the origin of diseases and to develop replacement cells that would be identical to those a patient has lost in a disease like Parkinson's.

Dr. Hwang said he had no intention of using the method to produce babies that were clones. "Our proposal is limited to finding a way to cure disease," he said. "That is our proposal and our research goal."

I urge you to let your Representative know that you favor the Castle-DeGette bill, especially now that there are exciting breakthroughs being made all over the world.


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