Weekly Columns

Americans OPPOSE Taxpayer Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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Washington, September 1, 2010 | comments
Media reports have indicated that Democrats may bring legislation to the Floor that allows taxpayer funds to be used to conduct embryonic stem cell research - that is research on stem cell lines derived from the destruction of a human embryo. This issue has resurfaced in the wake of a district court judge's decision to suspend federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, stating that the President's Executive Order allowing this research violates the law prohibiting taxpayer funding from being used in the destruction of human embryos. Ensuring that the law restricting the use of taxpayer dollars for embryonic stem cell research remains intact is the moral obligation of this Congress.

There are some in both the political and scientific communities who portray embryonic stem cell research as the solution for all diseases. But the evidence simply does not support the theory. To date, embryonic stem cells have not yet been developed for even one significant cure.

As a medical doctor, I do not support federal embryonic stem cell research because I feel the moral harm outweighs the scientific good. In medicine, it is widely known that stem cells are present in the adult tissue as well. Already, adult stems cells are successfully being used to treat medical illnesses and have shown the most promise for future medical therapies. Many researchers believe adult stem cells will yield far more useful information for the treatment of a multitude of diseases than embryonic stem cells.

This Congress should not pass legislation that would allow federal funding to be used for research involving embryonic stem cells. Recent statistics show that many Americans, including some who do not have moral objection to embryo-destructive research, oppose federal funding for the research. This conclusive statement was derived from a recent Rasmussen poll released on Friday August 27, 2010, which also reveals that "only 33% of U.S. voters believe that taxpayer money should be spent on embryonic stem cell research" (ESCR) and 57% OPPOSE taxpayer funding for controversial stem cell research that requires destruction of human embryos. The injunction is in line with the law, but it also reflects the will of the American people.

These statistics were published the same week that US District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth also noted the important distinction between federal and private funding for this controversial research. In his decision to halt the Obama stem cell policy while a case regarding the legality of the funding is considered, he notes that the injunction "would not interfere with [embryonic stem cell researchers] ability to obtain private funding for their research."

While the case of embryonic stem cell research is under review, it is my hope that Congress will not act prematurely to force taxpayers to pay for research in which an embryo or fetus is at risk of injury or death.

As a physician I am an advocate of ethical, legal medical research that will help our patients without compromising our longstanding commitment to “first, do no harm.” I am working with my colleagues in the GOP Doctors Caucus, to stop the Obama administration from appealing the ruling; in turn allowing federal funds to be used for embryonic stem cell research.
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