California Congressman Upsets Pro-Lifers With Embryonic Research Support
by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
March 22, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A California Congressman who identifies himself as pro-life is drawing fire for his support of scientific research that results in the killing of human embryos.
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) is one of more than a hundred Capitol Hill lawmakers who have signed a letter to President George W. Bush, asking him to work to expand embryonic stem cell research. He is the only one with a predominantly pro-life voting record on abortion and other issues.
Some pro-life leaders in California say Cunningham’s support for deadly fetal stem cell research is not unexpected.
"Although it is disappointing, it doesn’t surprise me," Dana Serrano Chisholm of the Women’s Resource Network told LifeNews.com. The Women’s Resource Network represents a group of pro-life organizations in California.
"Cunningham, who claims to be our pro-life representative in San Diego, is also the same man who visited the local Planned Parenthood clinic and spoke highly of (it)," Chisholm said. Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion operation in the nation and has been sharply criticized for dispensing RU-486, the dangerous abortion drug that killed a California teenager last year.
Attempts by LifeNews.com to reach Cunningham for comment on this story were unsuccessful.
Chisholm notes that Planned Parenthood even praised Cunningham in a newsletter.
The newsletter stated: "He (Cunningham) has twice defended Planned Parenthood. The latest instance relates to a very divisive amendment to an appropriations bill. The Vitter amendment called for banning Title X funds to any family planning organization that either counseled or performed abortion. Cunningham told the committee that he used to think Planned Parenthood was akin to ‘Al Qaeda,’ but after visiting a clinic had changed his mind. He went on to describe the many excellent services we provide."
While Planned Parenthood officials like to tout the organization’s breast cancer and cervical cancer screening programs, the organization’s own financial records show that much of Planned Parenthood’s clinic income comes from abortion.
"This latest action has me reconsidering how we label our Representatives ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-abortion.’ We’re going to have to refine our terms, because I do not understand Cunningham’s definition of being ‘pro-life,’" Chisholm said.
"I fear folks who throw around labels carelessly, but cannot show any action — and I mean taking initiative, not just following others on votes for a record — but actually doing something on our behalf — are just wearing the label to get the votes because this district is conservative and pro-life. Now he is taking action, alright, but it is in direct opposition to the pro-life label he wants to wear," Chisholm added.
Pro-life advocates note that Cunningham and other biotech industry backers are repeating many of the myths surrounding embryonic stem cell research–myths perpetuated by companies that stand to financially benefit from an expansion of such research.
For instance, they claim that "human embryonic stem cells have the potential to treat and better understand the deadly and disabling diseases that affect more than 100 million Americans, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and many others."
In fact, a number of researchers concede that initial trials using fetal stem cells have proven disastrous, and that adult stem cell research, which does not involve the destruction of human embryos, is far more promising.
Supporters of fetal stem cell research also claim that such research must be expanded in the U.S. to prevent work from going overseas. They say that researchers have been moving from the U.S. to the United Kingdom, Singapore, Israel, Sweden, and Australia, countries which have "more supportive policies" when it comes to anti-life scientific research.
But pro-life advocates say such economic arguments ring hollow. For one thing, they say, fetal stem cell research is likely to be a flop, if the initial tests are any indication. For another, pro-life leaders note, not all jobs are created equal. They say the U.S. does not need jobs that involve the taking of innocent young lives.
For her part, Chisholm is tired of politicians who are willing to compromise pro-life principles in order to appease the abortion and biotech industries.
"We used to be able to count on our representatives actually representing us and voting according to our wishes, which is why we sent them there in the first place. But, apparently as time passes, so does their resolve," Chisholm said.
ACTION: You can find information to use to contact Rep. Cunningham at https://www.house.gov/cunningham/contact.htm
Related web sites:
Congressman Cunningham – https://www.house.gov/cunningham