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Bartlett, Gingrey Introduce Ethical Stem Cell Legislation

October 23, 2017

U.S. Congressmen Roscoe Bartlett, Ph.D. (R-MD) and Phil Gingrey, M.D. (R-GA) this week introduced H.R. 322, an ethical alternative to the DeGette-Castle bill that sacrifices human life in the name of science. H.R. 322 authorizes federal funding for research to derive pluripotent (flexible, long-lived) stem cell lines without creating or destroying human embryos - an ethical process that respects the sanctity of life.

Bartlett and Gingrey hand-delivered a letter to Democrat leadership last night requesting a fair and honest debate on stem cells, one that encompasses ethical alternatives to H.R. 3 (see attachment).  In light of Monday's news on the potential of ethical amniotic stem cell research, a full debate on this pressing issue is crucial. Yet the new Democrat majority has given no indication they will bring up any alternative to H.R. 3, showing their leadership's commitment only to stem cell research that destroys human life.

"As a scientist who studied advanced embryology earning both a Master's and a Doctorate in Human Physiology, I know and confirmed with leading scientists that it is unnecessary to harm or destroy embryos to obtain cell lines for research," said Rep. Bartlett.  "In the past year, scientists have made significant advances to derive pluripotent stem cell lines without harming embryos.   With the accelerated federal funding under the alternative bill introduced today by Congressman Gingrey and me, there could be rapid progress expanding the number of ethical pluripotent stem cell lines for research. Only politics is the barrier this week - but hopefully not for the duration of the 110th Congress - that would deny the benefits of ethical embryonic stem cell research for millions of people suffering from devastating injuries and diseases."

Rep. Gingrey added, "As a pro-life OB-GYN physician, I know we don't have to sacrifice human life in order to research ways to save it.  We can side-step the moral questions surrounding embryonic stem cell research by funding ethical alternatives.  But the Democrats have made it clear H.R. 3 will be the only stem cell legislation debated this week. So what about adult stem cells, cord blood stem cells, and these promising amniotic stem cells? The Democrats simply aren't interested.  DeGette-Castle is a misuse of taxpayer dollars, and I am very disappointed at their refusal to consider alternatives.  In America, we do things the right way. We don't take organs from death row prisoners because they are 'going to die anyway.' Neither should we steal the life of a fertilization clinic embryo just because there's a chance it won't be used to impregnate a woman."

Last Congress, all 100 Senators and 273 House members voted for legislation nearly identical to H.R. 322.

H.R. 322 provides federal funding for research to develop techniques for the ethical derivation and production of stem cells that have pluripotent qualities (ie, can become any type of tissue).  The legislation does not limit private funding for any or all types of stem cell research.  H.R. 322 also prioritizes research with the greatest potential for near-term clinical benefits.

Pluripotent stem cells and embryonic stem cells share two critical traits:
1 - both contain the flexible qualities required for a cell to convert into any tissue type
2 - both are long-lived. It is these two qualities - not the origin of the cells - that hold promise for medical research.

-- Congressman Bartlett is the author of the altertnative pluripotent stem cell bill H.R. 322.

-- Congressman Bartlett will be one of the concluding speakers about stem cell research between 1:30 pm and 2:00 pm.

-- Congressman Bartlett will make the point that it is not necessary to destroy embryos to obtain cells from early embryos that could become embryonic stem cell lines.

-- He will also review advances in other alternative techniques to obtain the pluripotent stem cells desired by scientists for their potential to advance scientific knowledge and develop treatments for many devastating diseases and conditions.

-- Congressman Bartlett earned a PhD and Master's in Human Physiology.