Congressman Hopes Leavitt Will Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 17, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Congressman Hopes Leavitt Will Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 17, 2004

Washington, DC ( — A Delaware congressman who has been leading the push for the federal government to use taxpayer funds to back embryonic stem cell research says he hopes President Bush’s new choice to head the Health and Human Services Department will be more receptive.

With departing HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson implementing President Bush’s view on the controversial topic, the federal government prohibited funding for any new embryonic stem cell research because it destroys human life.

Instead, the National Institutes of Health spent more than $190 million on the use of adult stem cells, which have already provided treatments for 98 diseases and ailments.

But, Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, a Republican, wants HHS Secretary nominee Mike Leavitt to fund embryonic stem cell research.

"Hopefully, he’ll become an ally," said Castle told the News Journal newspaper. "I am vitally concerned with turning around this administration’s policies on embryonic research."

Castle is the co-author of legislation, along with Colorado Democrat Diana DeGette, to overturn Bush’s policy and use federal funds to destroy human embryos frozen at fertility clinics to obtain their stem cells.

He plans to reintroduce the bill when Congress starts its new session in January and says he has 190 members of the House ready to sign on to it.

Yet, Castle admits he has a long way to go to fund the unproven research, since Bush would likely veto the bill should it pass.

"To be candid, I don’t have a lot of hope that this administration’s policy is going to change," Castle said. "But I’m going to keep trying to get this done."

Castle also claims as many as 50 pro-life members of Congress will support his bill, despite strong opposition from pro-life groups across the board.

"The argument for pro-life people who support stem-cell research is that we’re using a petri dish [for the embryo]," he said. "It will never be implanted in the womb of a woman. These creations are not life."

But, pro-life groups point to the adoption of unborn children who are among the 400,000 estimated to be frozen at fertility clinics.

The Christian Medical Association developed the National Embryo Donation Center in an effort to provide compassionate solutions to the problems that arise when embryos are created, but not implanted.

The Executive Director of the Christian Medical Association, Dr. David Stevens, said, "Many couples who have used reproductive technology in an effort to have children are faced with the issue of embryos who will not be implanted and brought to birth. Thankfully, such couples now have the option of allowing another couple to receive their embryo(s) and to provide a loving home for any child that may result."

Stevens notes that couples who adopt embryos are able to experience childbirth in addition to the joy of raising an adopted child.

"Embryo adoption is especially good because you’re saving a life. There is no better way to adopt than to adopt an embryo," Stevens said.

Couples interested in donating or adopting embryos can contact the Embryo Donation Center at