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President's veto should not deter supporters of stem cell research

23 July 2006
By Sean Tipton
President, Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, USA
Appeared in BioNews 368
With unprecedented bipartisan support in the US House of Representatives, the US Senate, and from the American people, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act passed both houses of Congress and landed on President Bush's desk this week, only to be met with the first veto of the Bush Administration.

President Bush's choice to use his first veto ever to shoot down the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act represents a single-issue extremist point of view that completely discounts what many, including pro-life members of the Republican party, believe is an important avenue of research that may change the face of how we treat, cure, and help alleviate the suffering of so many Americans

With the stamp of his veto, President Bush ignored the beliefs of thousands of scientists and experts, a hundred million patients and their families, friends and caregivers - all who believe that embryonic stem cell research holds great promise in finding better treatments and cures for cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and other debilitating diseases and disorders.

Senate Majority Leader Frist showed exemplary leadership as he skillfully brought this legislation up for a vote to illustrate to the White House this nation's desire for embryonic stem cell research to be federally funded and conducted in a thoughtful, regulated manner. For the President to blatantly disregard the will of the people is outrageous. Vetoing the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act speaks volumes to America that its President is not interested in leaving a legacy of forward-thinking research, cures, nor compassion and concern for those who suffer.

Not only do I believe embryonic stem cell research holds great promise in reshaping the world of disease and illness as we know it today, I also believe that by investing in stem cell research, the federal government can play a significant role in reducing medical costs in the future. This veto is a sign to every family America that the President doesn't care about their wallets.

And, this veto should strike fear in the hearts of anyone in America who has a desire to innovate, or to uphold our nation's strong tradition of leadership in science, medicine, and technology. While the answers, cures and treatments lie in the hands of science and medicine, the funding and oversight to ensure efficient, ethical and responsible research lies in the hands of our nation's leaders. By vetoing the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, not only did the President ensure that these one hundred million patients suffer further, he also stripped many of America's greatest scientists and researchers of the tools they need and have been asking for. America's leadership position in the fields of science and medicine will suffer if our brightest minds are shackled by the darkest political manoeuvrings.

Did Thomas Edison know that his work would create an entirely new era in innovation and industry? Did Alexander Graham Bell know he would revolutionise the way we communicate and transmit information? Did the Wright Brothers know they would ultimately transform the transportation industry? Like Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Robert Jarvik proved in the medical and scientific community, great American innovation comes from chance, opportunity, hope and funding. For the President to ignore this is shameful and embarrassing, and will certainly have an impact on how the rest of the world views the way we prioritise our medical and scientific research goals.

Despite this veto, our hope cannot be extinguished. As a nation, we need to continue to support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Countless researchers and medical experts believe that stem cell research may hold the key to unlocking a whole new generation of treatments and cures, the likes of which cannot be derived from any other type of research.

We will continue to fight for federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. The White House may feel as if they can wash their hands of this fight, but we know President Bush's actions will have implications in the upcoming November elections, as well as in 2008. We are hopeful that one day, we will be able to offer even better treatments and, eventually, cures for some of the most debilitating and deadly diseases and disorders facing American families today.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
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