When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

17 July 2005

Stem Cell Action Alert

We interrupt our blog-day for a public service announcement from the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR), reproduced here in its entirety:

Do Not Be Fooled By Decoy Bills!!!!

Those who oppose passage in the Senate of HR 810, the pro-cures stem cell bill, are fogging the battlefield with proposed so-called "alternatives." These range from unpublished, unproven theories to experiments that have only been conducted with animal cells.

Those of us who support embryonic stem (ES) cell research should not be fooled! These untested theories are years, perhaps decades, away from producing human embryonic stem cells. Scientists have already determined a way to derive safe and effective ES cells by using surplus fertility treatment embryos that will otherwise be discarded and destroyed as medical waste. It is this method that is the most scientifically promising and must be supported immediately!

Only HR 810, the Castle-DeGette bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives on May 24 and was introduced in the Senate by Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), carries the true intent and spirit of the Pro-Cures Movement--our cause. At a stem cell rally in Washington, DC this week Michael J. Fox joined Specter, Harkin and other Republican and Democratic Senators urging for passage of HR 810. Mr. Fox explained that a vote for HR 810 is not only pro-life, it is pro-living. The Senators at the rally agreed. Our national leaders must seize the promise of this opportunity to provide cures for millions of Americans.

A Senate vote on HR 810 and possibly other "alternatives" may take place as early as next week! The message every Senator must hear loudly is that their vote in favor HR 810 is imperative. It is also important for Senators to know that the Pro-Cures community is opposed to any anti-research bills which would ban certain forms of stem cell research.


We need YOU (and your family, friends and neighbors) to contact your U.S. Senators immediately using these arguments: (to find your Senator's contact information, go to www.senate.gov):
  • Stem cell research is extremely important to me and my family for (explain your personal reason for supporting embryonic stem cell research here). Under President Bush's current policy, there are simply not enough stem cell lines for federal researchers to work on to make possible the cures that my family and I so desperately need.

  • The so-called "alternatives" bills are diversions at best, and at worst, could delay important research and potential cures for patients and their families for years.

  • Voting for an "alternative" bill does not relieve my Senator of the responsibility to vote FOR HR 810.

  • Vote against any anti-research bills which would ban some types of scientifically valid and promising stem cell research.

  • Only one bill makes the most sense for patients, and that is HR 810. I urge my Senator to vote for HR 810 without amendments if he or she is truly Pro-Cures. A vote for HR 810 is the vote my family and I will be watching for.
Okay, Barry here again. Stem cell research is very important indeed to me, as someone who is himself a diabetic, the son of a paraplegic, and the husband of a cancer survivor. I bet that you, or someone you know, has a personal stake in this, too.

The tone of the CAMR's communication is a little overwrought and emotional, but I think that's probably right on the money these days. If rational thought had anything to do with stem cell policy, it wouldn't even be an issue, so appeals to emotion and implied threats if your Senators don't do the right thing are exactly the right way to go.

And CAMR is hardly a fringe organization... check out this list of members.

Please take a moment and write your Senators. I just dropped a little love note to Chuck and Hillary:
I am writing to urge you to vote YES on the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, H.R. 810, with no amendments.

Embryonic stem cells may mitigate the pain and suffering of more than 100 million Americans and provide new therapies and other scientific opportunities for countless diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, heart disease, spinal cord injury and cancer.

As a person who is himself a diabetic, and who is the son of a paraplegic (spinal cord injury) and the husband of a cancer survivor, my family and I take this issue very seriously, and we are watching very closely indeed as this bill progresses through Congress.

Nearly four years have passed since the Bush Administration's policy was announced and since then we have learned much more about the potential of stem cell research to save lives. Unfortunately, the limitations of the current federal policy have stalled progress here in the U.S. Scientists--including United States National Institutes of Health officials--are reporting that it is increasingly difficult to attract new scientists to stem cell research because of concerns that funding restrictions will keep this research from being successful.

Meanwhile, this promising scientific field is moving overseas. We have already seen researchers move to countries such as the United Kingdom, Singapore, Israel, Sweden, and Australia, which have more supportive policies. It would be a shame to see such a promising field of research absent from our country, which is the world's leader in biotechnology.

Most importantly, the men, women, and children who are suffering from life-threatening diseases are engaged in a race against time. It is our responsibility to make sure that they benefit as quickly as possible from the very best that science and technology has to offer. Given the enormous scientific potential of human embryonic stem cells, I ask you to vote for H.R. 810 the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, and to vote against any amendments or "alternative" bills that may be proposed.


Barry T. Campbell
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