Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005

Date: May 24, 2005
Location: Washington, DC

STEM CELL RESEARCH ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - May 24, 2005)


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the majority leader and my chairman for yielding me this time.

I do rise in opposition to this bill today.

The debate that we are about is expanding Federal funding, not limiting research. There are no bona fide treatments available for embryonic stem cells. There is nothing in the laboratory, and there is certainly nothing in the clinics available to patients. Honesty is an important part of this debate, and I am concerned that more than a promise has been offered to people who are suffering and the reality is that those potential treatments are much more limited than they have been portrayed.

The President, I think, wisely put parameters, set boundaries around this type of research back in 2001. Let us not forget that private funding for stem cell research is available today. A couple who has an embryo developed in an IVF clinic is perfectly free to take that embryo to a lab at Harvard or California and have a stem cell line developed. The reality is in a poll of my reproductive endocrinologists back home: that never comes up as an issue.

But 22 cell lines are currently utilized. There are an additional 31 cell lines available, per Dr. Zerhouni's testimony before our committee, that will be developed after the issue of animal growth medium becomes overcome. And there are two papers out this past week that indicate that that date may be quickly upon us.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that we follow the money in this debate. The reality is if there are indeed a third of the population of the United States who would benefit from this research, I believe that the big biotech money would be jumping into this. We would not be able to keep them out. They would be buying patents and capturing cell lines for their future use.

If there is one thing we learned in the last Presidential election, it was that both major candidates asserted that life begins at conception, and we are talking about taking a life. Remember that that inner cell mass that we are talking about that is taken at about 2 weeks of development, if we put that on a timeline of a human pregnancy, about 5 days later we are going to see a heartbeat on a sonogram.

So, Mr. Speaker, this is what the debate is all about. I urge us to protect life and vote against this bill.