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New Bill Cuts Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Members of the U.S. Senate have introduced legislation aimed at stopping federally-funded research at the National Institutes of Health that use embryonic stem cells.

The new bill, known as the Patients First Act, which was introduced by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and James Lankford (R-OK), will promote stem cell research that does not involve the creation, use, destruction, or discarding of human embryos.

The Patients First Act would:

• Promote the creation of pluripotent stem cell lines without the creation of human embryos, or the destruction or discarding of, or risk of injury, to human embryos;

• Intensify stem cell research that may result in an improved understanding of, or treatments for, diseases and other adverse health conditions;

• Promote research and human clinical trials using stem cells that are ethically obtained and show evidence of providing clinical benefit for human patients;

• Direct the National Institutes of Health to prioritize stem cell research that has the greatest potential for near-term clinical benefits given currently available evidence;

• Reverse President Obama’s Executive Order 13505, which gave the Department of Health and Human services the authority to use embryonic stem cells in research; and,

• Codify the Dickey-Wicker Amendment prohibiting the use of federal funds for human embryonic stem cell research.

“Protecting the rights of the unborn is nonnegotiable,” Inhofe said. “I am proud to be a cosponsor of the Patients First Act, legislation that will promote stem cell research without destroying babies in the process—it’s common sense, it promotes advancements for our future, but most importantly, it’s the right thing to do.”

"Human life is sacred at every stage, regardless of a person’s size or degree of dependency,” said Lankford. “I am grateful for the continued work of Senator Wicker on the Patients First Act, which promotes stem cell research without the creation, use, destruction, or discarding of human embryos. Adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem (ipS) cells have shown great therapeutic promise. Let’s put patients first and devote time and resources to treatments that work.”

This new bill is in keeping with Church teaching on the use of stem cells which prohibits obtaining stem cells from a living human embryo which “invariably causes the death of the embryo and is consequently gravely illicit.”

It’s also entirely unnecessary. This article, published earlier this year in the AHA Journal, calls adult stem cells “the true gold standard in regenerative medicine. “Adult stem cells are the only stem cell type that has shown evidence of success when it comes to patients, and treating patients is supposedly the ultimate goal for stem cell research, certainly the justification for the huge sums of money poured into the field.”

Embryonic stem cells, on the other hand, pose a number of serious problems that make them ill-suited for clinical use, not least of which is their propensity to cause tumors.

For this reason, “nonembryonic stem cell research has surpassed embryonic stem cells,” the article states, and adds that induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which show the same pluripotent characteristics as embryonic stem cells, have replaced embryonic stem cells in many laboratories and are now the most prevalent pluripotent stem cell in published research studies.”

“Ethical science that respects the dignity of life is always the best science,” bill cosponsor Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., stated. “This legislation establishes scientifically-sound policies that protect the sanctity of life while promoting promising stem cell research on better treatments and cures for many diseases.”

Cosponsors of the bill include Senators Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Steve Daines, R-S.D., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and James Lankford, R-Okla.

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