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    20 May 2005

    Stem cell action

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    [UPDATE] Here is the roll call from the vote today. The bill passed easily, but would need 52 Congressmen/women to switch their vote to override the veto. 14 Dems and 180 Repubs voted 'NO' with 2 Congressmen/women not voting. The Dems voting no were Costello, Davis (TN), Holden, Kaptur, Kildee, Lipinski, Marshall, McIntyre, Mollohan, Oberstar, Peterson (MN), Rahall, Stupak, and Taylor (MS).

    With all the hoopla in congress with the filibuster fight, it is easy to overlook the current and pending battle over stem cell research. Stem cells are pure magic, they can be harvested in any number of ways; some more controversial that others. But with an administration with policies mostly based on the philosophy of means justifying the ends, it is hard to believe the amount of opposition the stem cells and all of its benefits receive from bushCo. and Bush himself. For example, South Korea has made monumental developments in stem cell research and so have other countries; even we (the US) has made moderate developments in the field despite a rightwing roadblock on the matter.

    The lead swap between America and South Korea

    Just a few years ago, Michigan State University scientist Jose Cibelli was considered the leading expert on cloning human embryos to treat and study disease. Now, there's no debate that the cloning king is Hwang Woo-suk of Seoul National University.

    On Thursday, Hwang announced yet again that he had successfully cloned human embryos, this time extracting stem cells from embryos created using the DNA of sick and injured patients. It was the second time in a little more than a year that Hwang had successfully cloned. He remains the only acknowledged scientist to have done so.

    Hwang is succeeding where the United States is failing because generous South Korean government support helped him create an efficient cloning factory. In his lab, an army of researchers trained in specialized individual tasks mans a high-tech assembly line that often operates 24 hours a day, Cibelli and others say.

    In contrast, the few U.S. researchers eager to clone are left scrambling for funds and staff and must contend with legal vagaries as well as staunch opposition from President Bush, who reaffirmed his position on Friday with a veto threat.

    This is a damn shame. Not because we lost the lead in this area of research, but because with our scientist limited so severely, the benefits that the world will reap when this technology is perfected will be put off that much longer. People who suffer from or will suffer from conditions such as (from the Stem Cell Research Foundation)...

    • leukemia and other cancers (which I just lost my grand mother to)

    • impared sight / macular degeneration (grandmother suffers from this)

    • severe burns

    • kidney disease (lost grandfather to)

    • diabetes

    • Parkinson's disease

    • Alzheimers (lost grandfather to)

    • multiple sclerosis

    • spinal injuries / paralysis

    • aging organs

    • organ rejection (reduce the risk of transplant rejection, it would be made from your own DNA)

    • This list goes on and will only increase with time and research.

    ...will pay dearly.

    But when a scientist makes a discovery like Dr. Hwang made earlier this week...
    South Korean scientists have dramatically sped up the creation of human embryonic stem cells, growing 11 new batches that for the first time were a genetic match to injured or sick patients.

    Our leader replies by condemning it.

    Which bring us to the action.

    I would imagine that the Dems are all for the lifting of the 2001 ban on Government funded stem cell research, and the GOP is divided but it is almost guaranteed that the bill will get its 218 votes in the House. That is step one, as you all know. Then it is of to the President to sign the bill, which he won't do. He has stated that he will veto the bill, this would send it back to the House. Here it would be possible to override the veto with a 2/3 majority in both chambers. 23 Repubs and an Independent (assuming all the Dems are on board) in the Senate, and 90 more Representatives in addition to the 200 cosigners the bill already has. This, in my opinion, is a posiblity.

    So in conclusion I request that given the tremendous amount of lobbying that is going on currently, surrounding the filibuster; you take an extra minute to write a short letter of concern and/or encouragement for this bill, now and in the coming weeks after the veto. It is possible to slip this by Bush; it is possible in the Senate and since this is a topic that is popular across the country, getting as many as 300 votes in the House is a definite possibility.

    Imagine the look on Bush's face if he loses on this, as well as, the outrage in the small circles of opposition that control him; a.k.a. the extremist religious right. :)

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