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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Two Misleading Bills Disguised as “Hope Acts”

By Don Reed

There are two misleading bills that seem at first very moderate and reasonable, but are in fact designed to block blastocystic (embryonic) stem cell research funding.

“Hope Offered through Principled and Ethical Stem Cell Research Act” (S 30/Coleman, Isakson) and its clone, the “Florida Hope Offered through Principled and Ethical Stem Cell Research Act”—unless defeated, there will be more.

Presented as a moderate alternative to the Stem Cell research Enhancement Act, the “Hope Act” is in fact a permanent restriction—supported by the Bush Administration, which helped write it. It fooled a lot of good people in the Senate, who did not have time to fully examine it, and believed it was a harmless bill.

Contrary to its grossly misleading title, the “Hope Act” (S 30, Coleman, Isakson) would impose a devastating and permanent ban on federal funding of new embryonic stem cell research, including Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) therapies. The bill would codify permanent change in what stem cell research may be federally funded. Prior to this bill, similar language had to be approved every year— under the Dickey Amendment—now those provisions would be fixed in law.

The Florida version was presented as a way to pay for adult stem cell research, $20 million a year (and restrictions, banning embryonic stem cell research funding from the state)—but then the money was taken away, so only the restrictions remain. Stealing the language of good research, and sold as a moderate compromise, these deceptive legislations are the enemy at its most deadly.

The enemies of research know they are losing. America has made up her mind. We want the research to move forward. The opposition’s only hope is win by deception, to advance their anti-research agenda in the guise of attractive words and seeming compromise, hiding the spikes and poison, to rush restrictions through before we understand, before we can rally, and defend.

All that is required to defeat these bills is that we fully understand them and make sure our leaders share that understanding. These bills must be defeated, or the President will surely sign them into law. To read a short version of the actual language of the bill with an explanatory commentary, please see http://stemcellbattles.com/index.htm. you will also find a sample letter you can use to write your Senator.

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