Representative Will Pressure Congress to Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 20, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Representative Will Pressure Congress to Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 20, 2005

Washington, DC ( — A Delaware Congressman says he will push even harder in the next few weeks to force the House of Representatives to vote on legislation that would mandate taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Rep. Michael Caste, a Republican, previously introduced 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.

In the coming weeks, Castle plans to reintroduce the bill and step up efforts to force pro-life House Republican leaders to hold a vote on it. They have blocked past efforts to vote on the measure.

"That’s not going to be easy, but … I think if we can get it to the floor, then we could win it," Castle told biotech leaders at a meeting of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute.

Last year, Castle’s bill found 190 co-sponsors in the House, including 23 Republicans. A letter to President Bush supporting the bill garnered 206 House signatures and 58 Senate signatures.

However, pro-life groups strongly oppose it because it funds research that involves the destruction of days-old unborn children.

In August 2001, President Bush issued an executive order authorizing stem cell research funding but prohibiting any funds used for new embryonic stem cell research because it destroys human life.

During his administration, the president has put more than $190 million into stem cell research, with the bulk of it going towards studies using adult stem cells, which come from more ethical sources.

With the media and politicians using stem cell research as a campaign issue, state lawmakers are also seeking to get a piece of the research pie.

California voters approved a $6 billion plan to fund human cloning and embryonic stem cell research and states like Wisconsin, Illinois, New Jersey and others are not far behind.

That state-by-state approach makes Castle concerned that his home state of Delaware will be left out of the picture because of its small size. Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research becomes more important as a result.

"If state funding is the only way for research to go forward, then we’re in trouble," said Michael Bowman, president of the Delaware Technology Park. "If we can get federal agreement, Delaware can compete with anybody."

Castle said Delaware would compete for federal research dollars if they were more available.