Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Open Letter to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison on Vote for Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007

I would like to share with the Travis Monitor Blog Community the text of my recent facilitated email message to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison regarding the following vote:

Recent Senate Votes
Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 - Vote Passed (63-34, 3 Not Voting)
The Senate voted to reverse President Bush's 2001 decision prohibiting government funds from being spent to create new lines of embryonic stem cells.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison voted YES
Sen. John Cornyn voted NO

Please note that the email to the Senator did not include labels for the sources cited, only the raw URLs (links ).

Dear Senator Hutchison,

I was very disappointed when I learned of your vote in favor of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007. Should this bill become law it will result in public funding of the destruction of human life at the very earliest stage -- a fertilized embryo -- on the off chance that such killing will result in cures for other human beings. This is unethical in the same way that Nazi experiments on and Communist Chinese harvesting organs from prisoners was/is unethical.

Also, the use of public funds for embryonic stem cell research, which to date has resulted in zero cures of or treatments for human diseases, reduces the availability of public funds for adult stem cell research. As you know harvesting of adult stem cells 1) does no harm to the donor, and 2) has been used to cured or treat scores of diseases, positively affect[ing] thousands of human beings, some of wh[om] are alive today as a result (see sources below).

I would like to know what are your reasons for voting for this bill.

  1. Benefits of Stem Cells to Human Patient: Adult Stem Cells v. Embryonic Stem
  2. Current Clinical Applications of Adult Stem Cells
  3. BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics Announces Adult Stem Cell: Breakthrough for Neurodegenerative Diseases
  4. Stem Cell Research: Adult vs. Embryonic Stem Cells
Timothy E. Bradberry


Judy Haley said...

Kay Bailey Hutchison showed enormous integrity and education when she voted to expand embryonic stem cell research, and I applaud her courage in doing so. I say courage, because she will hear from sincere people like the author of the comment who misunderstand the potential of stem cells of all types, and the issues up for political debate.

Adult stem cell cures have been, from the source used by this author, misrepresented as providing treatments or cures for 72 diseases. This simply is not fact; after almost 50 years, they still ONLY provide treatments for 9 diseases, all of blood and bone. The refutation of the exaggerated claim, published in Science (July, 2006) is clear. What about Parkinson's, and diabetes, and the other diseases? They don't have adult stem cells...but show enormous progress in the short time (9 years) since embryonic cells were isolated. Do we eliminate the hope for curing millions of those terrible diseases?

The stem cells that Kay Bailey Hutchison and others in both Houses of Congress voted to use are derived from left over embryos in IVF clinics. No amount of objection, by this well-intentioned author or others, will change the fact that these are excess, and if they aren't used for research, they will be thrown away. They won't ever be implanted; every day IVF clinics are forced to throw away these valuable cells, and they have been doing that for all the years of IVF treatment. Even if another IVF process were never done again(heaven forbid; many precious children have resulted from this wonderful process), the freezers are nonetheless full of excess eggs which can be used for research, or thrown away.

So, like the process of organ donation, Kay Bailey Hutchison has supported using precious human cells for life instead of discard. I applaud and admire the fact that she and a majority of our other elected leaders, including many conservative, pro-life Republicans, chooses this truly pro-life position.

Melinda said...

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison voted with an educated and compassionate mind. As a pro-life conservative Texan, I am very proud of her. Please do not imply that I, or others who support embryonic stem cell research, condone situational ethics and believe it is okay to trade another human life to save that of their loved one. We aren’t talking about babies, fetuses or embryos beyond 5 days. Embryos at this point are a ball of cells that have not begun to develop any physical features– if these cells had begun to develop beyond this point, they would no longer be pluripotent. Yes, these cells have 46 chromosomes as does every cell in our bodies. Interestingly, the nuclei of these cells do not have all the genetic material necessary to develop into a newborn baby – the mechanisms of imprinted genes and chemical reactions from the mother’s womb are required to develop a baby. These cells in a Petri dish are living human cells just as a finger severed by accident is comprised of living human cells; but, neither the cells in the Petri dish nor the severed finger are human beings. This distinction clearly separates stem cell research from abortion - they are not the same thing. As a matter of fact, there are many pro-life conservatives who support embryonic stem cell research while opposing abortion and they are not into situational ethics.

The current ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research with excess IVF clinics fertilized eggs merely assures that the eggs will be thrown away as medical waste instead of used for research. Not ONE more fertilized egg is alive today because of this ban. The situation is very similar to an organ donor program – why not use these excess eggs for research to help save the living who are suffering instead of throwing them away? That, to me, is the true pro-life position.

So many cures and therapies throughout history have been scorned and thus, thwarted and delayed due to religious reasons. I believe when one child is cured of diabetes, when one young adult stands up and walks after suffering a spinal cord injury and one elderly parent is saved from the disrespectful life of Parkinson’s, then many who are in opposition will study and become truly educated on the promising combination of research involving adult, cord blood, amniotic fluid and embryonic stem cell research.

As for Senator Hutchison’s vote, I concur with 57% of Texans polled, a long list of renowned scientists, The AMA, The National Academy of Sciences, 40 Nobel Laureates, and every major health disease group in support of embryonic stem cell research. In fact, on March 19, 2007 Dr. Elias Zerhouni, the director of the National Institutes of Health who was appointed by President Bush, testified before the United States Senate stating, “So, from my standpoint, it is clear today that American science would be better served and the nation would be better served if we let our scientists have access to more cell lines, so that they can study with the different methods that have emerged since 2001, the different strategies that we now understand, underlying the fundamental issue, which is nuclear programming or DNA programming or reprogramming. The presentations about adult stem cells having as much or more potential than embryonic stem cells, in my view, do not hold scientific water, if you will. I think they are overstated. I think we do not know at this point where the breakthroughs will come from. I think scientists who work in adult stem cells themselves will tell you that we need to pursue as vigorously embryonic stem cells.”

Melinda Rose
Mother of a child with diabetes

Nina Brown said...

Being Jewish, I take strong offense at the comment comparing the research to Nazi experiments. Israel is a nation with a population existing of Holocaust survivors and their families. Israel is also a nation that is a leader in embryonic stem cell research. Knowing some Holocaust survivors, I have yet to speak to one who opposes it. Jews believe that when you save one life, you save the world. They believe this research is life saving. The Jewish interpretation of when life begins is at 40 days. I don’t intend to force my beliefs on others, and I certainly would not force others to use life saving cures if it offends their principles. However, I have every right to expect others to respect my beliefs as much as I respect theirs.

Kay Bailey Hutchison made an informed decision to support the Stem Cell Enhancement Act of 2007 after hearing from scientists from the leading medical schools, medical centers, research institutions, and the American Medical Association (the largest physician’s organization in the US) that the entire field of stem cell research should move forward, stating that banning one form of research and allowing another will not advance the field. In addition, all mainstream biomedical research institutions, including the NIH, NAS, 88 Nobel Laureates (5 are from Texas) 73% of the American public, and 56% of conservatives support all forms of stem cell research.

Judy Haley clearly addresses the discrepancy between the truth and the exaggerated claims made about adult stem cells. No one who wants to further research on embryonic stem cells is in favor of human reproductive cloning nor are they opposed to research on adult stem cells as well, but our government has invested the bulk of money for research on adult stem cells. It is untrue to say there have not been successes from the embryonic stem cell research since it has shown some amazing successes in animals, but it is still too early for human trials.

Anonymous said...

"As a pro-life conservative Texan, I am very proud of her."

As a pro-life conservative Texan, I sincerely doubt that most pro-lifers would share that view. KBH voted for spending taxpayer money on human-embryo-destroying therapeutic cloning.

The fundamental point made in the post and unanswered in the responses is whether destroying human embryos in the name of science is ethical, and in particular if taxpayer money should support such ethically suspect activities. The pro-life position is that it is not, because it destroys human life. The pro-lifers are correct on the biology - human embryos are human life. Some like the previous commenters may say it is just a clump of cells, but I recall hearing the same arguments from pro-aborts over abortion - funny, but since sonograms became popular the old 'just a clump of cells' chestnut lost its popularity.

You can rationalize or mechanize what human life is, but it is what it is, and what it is is human life. The utilitarian ethic that it is 'for the greater good' is a step down the collectivist/BraveNewWorld slippery slope. Some may take that path, but not true pro-lifers.

We should not have to destroy human life in order to study it. While I support ethical stem cell research fully, and I believe that adult and other forms of non-embryo-destroying research do hold promise, we should not throw out bio-ethics in order to pursue science. And we should not support taxpayer funding of research that falls afoul of the basic ethical guideline of 'thou shalt not kill'.

What is also left unstated is how little we give up by staying within better bio-ethics guidelines on stem cells. Mention is made of "exaggerated claim" with respect to adult stem cells, yet it is acknowledge they cure multiple diseases. The Science article was written by the pro-therapeutic-cloning advocate, not an objective observer, and the dispute is is

"Most of the diseases cited in the list compiled by the research council’s David Prentice, who is a Brownback adviser, rely upon limited clinical trials or observations from patients and doctors, rather than approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Neaves said.

But Prentice, a visiting professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Clinical Bioethics, said the embryonic stem cell supporters are misrepresenting his statements. He has asked Science to publish a rebuttal. Embryonic stem cell research, by contrast, has yet to benefit a single patient with Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, strokes or other ailments targeted by both procedures, Prentice said."

So, what of the many exaggerated claims made in the phony name of embryo-destroying stem cell research? "curing millions of those terrible diseases" as a 'promise' of this research is BS. Not a single cure from this research is found, and it is doubtful we will *ever* get real therapies from it. It's well known that Govt money is being sought precisely because private money won't go after this particular boondoggle. And the pro-abortionists think they have a silver bullet to divide and conquer the pro-lifers and so unscientific politicians are making many phony claims. ... Great claims were made by Korean scientist, but then it was found he faked his results.

In 2005 article on cloning pointed out that:
"So far only Hwang and his team in South Korea are the only scientists who have succeeded at therapeutic cloning."

The sordid story of his faked results is here:

He was claiming many diseases could be cured - wrong. He completely faked his whole results, and if stem cell research was not a politically convenience tool for liberal Democrats, the whole field would be discredited by Hwang's scandal.

Not a single cure from unethical embryo destroying stem cell research so far, and that will remain true for many years no matter how much California wastes on funding it. We should instead stay with more promising ethical stem cell research.

The claim is made that stem cell supporters oppose cloning. Simply wrong. "Embryonic stem cell research" is just a marketing label on the real scientific procedure at issue - aka "therapeutic cloning".