Lawmakers Bash U.S. on Embryonic Stem Cell Research in U.K. Visit

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 1, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Lawmakers Bash U.S. on Embryonic Stem Cell Research in U.K. Visit Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 1, 2006

London, England ( — There’s an old adage that debate about American policy should stop at the water’s edge and political disagreements should not be fought in other nations. However, three members of Congress on a "fact-finding" trip in the U.K. bashed President Bush for not spending taxpayer funds on embryonic stem cell research.

The lawmakers said they fear the United States will fall behind other nations in leading research because public money is not spent on embryonic stem cells, which have never cured a single patient.

"I’m concerned the US has fallen behind countries such as the UK and Asian countries because of the restrictions imposed on embryonic stem cell research," Delaware Congressman Mike Castle, a Republican, said in a speech.

Castle and two Democrats, Diana DeGette of Colorado and Jim Langevin of Rhode Island, met with representatives from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates stem cell research in Britain.

"Leadership in this area of research has shifted to the United Kingdom, which sees this scientific area as a cornerstone of its biotech industry," DeGette said in a statement.

The three are leading sponsors of a House-approved measure that would overturn President Bush’s limits on spending taxpayer funds for any new embryonic stem cell research. The president has spent hundreds of millions of dollars annually since he took office in 2001 on adult stem cells, which have already produced dozens of treatments and cures.

The Senate is expected to vote on the House measure sometime this summer, though a date has not been set.

However, Americans disagree with the three lawmakers on using taxpayer dollars to pay for research which destroys days-old unborn children.

A new poll released this week by International Communications Research finds 48% of Americans oppose federal funding of stem cell research that requires destroying human embryos. Just 39% support such funding and another 12 percent had no position.

Castle also complained that Bush’s limits are preventing the creation of new embryonic stem cells lines, though private funds could be used to develop them.

"We have a very limited number of lines at the moment, about 22, for our researchers to work on which is insufficient to get a body of work to the level it needs to be," he said.

During the trip, Castle and his colleagues met with a U.S. scientist who has relocated to England to take advantage of the nation’s very lenient laws allowing the grisly research.