House Will Likely Debate Ethical Stem Cell Research Funding This Week

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 16, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Will Likely Debate Ethical Stem Cell Research Funding This Week Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 16
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — The House of Representatives will likely engage in another debate on stem cell research this week as it takes up the Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill. On Wednesday or Thursday, House members will consider an amendment to support ethical forms of the research.

Pro-life lawmakers and organizations support ethical stem cell research using stem cells obtained from alternative sources such as umbilical cord blood. These don’t require the destruction of human life to obtain.

To further such research, pro-life Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, is joining with Rep. Artur Davis, an Alabama Democrat who votes for abortion.

Together the two will offer an amendment to bring the funding of the National Cord Blood Inventory program up to its full authorized level of $15 million. Congress has allowed funding before, but has not fully funded the initiative — with the current appropriations bill setting funding at only $4 million.

Without proper funding for the NCBI, it will be forced to reduce the contracts awarded to cord blood banks, will not be able to expand and include other banks in the national inventory, and will likely fail to meet the goals and purposes of the law.

In promoting their amendment, Smith and Davis point out that it is budget neutral, in that it does not authorize spending over the budget but merely directs some discretionary funds to the program that the budget doesn’t direct to a specific project.

The National Cord Blood Inventory was created in December 2005 and created a national program to collect at least 150,000 units of cord blood. It’s genetic diversity means it is believed to be able to meet the needs of 90% of patients.

The program also includes a registry to link public cord blood banks nationwide so physicians can search throughout the country for a blood or bone marrow match.

The NCBI is a valuable and non-controversial program as it promotes ethical and effective stem cell use, the lawmakers say. Taking stem cells from umbilical cord blood harms neither baby nor mother, and the stem cells have been shown to be pluripotent and capable of treating a diversity of diseases and conditions.

In the last two years alone, about 8,000 patients have received cord blood transplant treatment for over 70 conditions and diseases.