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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Norm Coleman on Stem Cells

I wrote both Senators on this topic. Amy Klobuchar has not responded.

Dear Ms. Young:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your views on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

In my opinion, the President's current policy does not provide enough federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. I believe we can and must do more to advance this life-saving research. However, I do not support the use of federal dollars to destroy an embryo, and I will continue to oppose any stem cell research bill that crosses this important ethical line.

Thankfully, scientific advances today allow us to move forward on embryonic stem research without harming the human embryo. Some of these methods include Altered Nuclear Transfer which programs an unfertilized egg to produce embryonic stem cells. Another method uses embryos that have naturally died, but from which stem cells may still be derived and used. Both of these methods, and potentially others down the road, create the valuable pluripotent stem cells that have made embryonic stem cell research so desirable. But they do so without destroying embryos.

In addition, I am greatly encouraged that non-embryonic stem cell research has already progressed to the point where patients are benefiting from the results. Diabetic children are receiving transplants of stem cells from umbilical cords and seeing a decrease in blood glucose levels. Studies have also shown that Parkinson's symptoms can be tremendously improved using treatments derived from Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial cells. The list of successes is a long one.

Currently Congress faces a couple of dead end choices. Members could pass legislation that allows federal funding for stem cell research that involves the destruction of human embryos, knowing full well the President will once again veto it. Members could also vote against federal funding for any type of embryonic stem cell research and miss the opportunity to move this important science forward. However, my hope is to move beyond these roadblocks and provide significant funding for stem cell research that is not being federally funded today, but does not cross the ethical line of destroying a human embryo.

Earlier this year I introduced legislation called the Hope Offered through Principled, Ethically-Sound Stem Cell Research Act or the "HOPE" Act (S. 363). The bill provides $5 billion in federal funding for both embryonic and non-embryonic stem cell research which does not harm or destroy a human embryo. My bill also creates a National Stem Cell Research Review Board that will provide ethical oversight, define research practices and interpret legal guidelines with regard to federally funded stem cell research. Additionally, the bill defines ethical guidelines for informed consent and for commerce involving human eggs, embryos and embryonic stem cell lines.

I believe that my legislation achieves the goals of advancing life-saving research without being vulnerable to a veto. I am optimistic that my HOPE Act offers a bipartisan solution to our nation and Congress who are split over this emotional and divisive issue.

Thank you once again for contacting me. I value your advice. I hope you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue of concern to you and your family.

Norm Coleman
United States Senate

I sent a response:

Dear Senator Coleman:

Then why not just introduce legislation to ban in vitro fertilization? Excess embryos produced from the procedures are destroyed all the time. Your stand is not "saving human life", it is merely preventing embryos which are slated for destruction from being used in research.

Eva Young