U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette , D-CO, and Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa, reintroduced legislation to support embryonic stem cell research. The representatives are co-sponsoring the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act of 2011, H.R. 2376.
The bill would codify the National Institutes of Health’s guidelines for carrying out all stem-cell research and require the NIH to review its guidelines every three years and make updates as science warrants. Furthermore, the bill would give legislative enforcement to the president’s 2009 decree allowing federal funding for medical research performed on abandoned embryos from fertility clinics.
SEC. 498E. HUMAN STEM CELL RESEARCH.
(a) In General.–Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the
Secretary shall conduct and support research that utilizes human stem
cells, including human embryonic stem cells.
(b) Eligibility.–Human embryonic stem cells eligible for use in
research under subsection (a) shall include stem cells that meet each
of the following:
(1) The stem cells were derived from human embryos that
have been donated from in vitro fertilization clinics, were
created for the purposes of reproductive treatment, and were in
excess of the clinical need of the individuals seeking such
(2) It was determined through consultation with the
individuals seeking reproductive treatment that the embryos to
be donated would never be implanted in a woman and would
otherwise be discarded.
(3) The individuals seeking reproductive treatment
donated the embryos with written informed consent and without
receiving any financial or other inducements to make the
SEC. 498G. PROHIBITION AGAINST FUNDING FOR HUMAN CLONING.
(a) Prohibition.–The Secretary shall not use any funds for the
conduct or support of human cloning.
(b) Guidelines.–The Secretary shall update the guidelines
maintained under section 498F for consistency with subsection (a).
(c) Definitions.–In this section, the term `human cloning’ means
the implantation of the product of transferring the nuclear material of
a human somatic cell into an egg cell from which the nuclear material
has been removed or rendered inert into a uterus or the functional
equivalent of a uterus.”
Critics of the bill site religious and moral reasons for their opposition, contending that the research will destroy possible embryos to harvest the stem cells. Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, has been among those opposed to embryonic stem cell research on the grounds that it’s unethical and immoral to use human embryos for scientific research.
Backers of the bill point out that bill provides a basis for protecting the NIH’s ability to continue to support the important scientific work that gives hope to millions of patients and their families. Currently, companies support research in Central and South America where there are fewer restrictions on stem cell research. Stem cell cures could produce billions of dollars of revenue for the companies that develop these cures and bring them to market, making federal support for stem-cell research in the U.S. crucial to maintaining the nation’s competitive edge.
Earlier versions of the Act were passed by both the House and the Senate but ultimately vetoed by then President George Bush.
Urge your representative and senators to pass the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act this year. The U.S. must continue to invest in embryonic stem cell research and a legislative solution is necessary to ensure that federal funding for this important research is no longer vulnerable to political or ideological challenge.