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Stem cell research and Congressional accountability

By Scott Tibbs, January 9, 2008

An open letter to Baron Hill:

I observed an article in the New York Times regarding how Democrats hope to reverse President Bush's policy forbidding the use of federal funds for "research" on embryonic stem cells. The question seems to be whether to have President Obama reverse the policy through executive order or have Congress do it legislatively.

I encourage you to stand for transparency and accountability in government, which requires a congressional vote on allowing federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research. All members of Congress should be required to state, on the record and with a vote, what they believe about this topic. Punting the question to President Obama and allowing all of the debate to focus on him does a disservice to citizens of the Ninth District.

When the issue comes before you, I encourage you to oppose embryonic stem cell research. It is a biological fact that human life begins at fertilization. When sperm and egg meet, a new human being is formed with a new genetic code separate from the mother and father. From that point forward, the foundation is laid for this new baby to grow and develop through the stages of life, so long as that baby is provided with nutrition and shelter. I believe that the only logical place to begin protecting human life is the point where life is created: at fertilization. Any point after that would be arbitrary.

Medical science has been a great blessing to this world. As a cancer survivor, I recognize that the advancement of medical science is the reason I am alive today. But medical science should always be focused on healing, not causing harm. Embryonic stem cell "research" necessarily results in the destruction of a human embryo. At the very beginning of life, a baby is killed for the advancement of medical "science". This is an unethical perversion of a field intended to heal.

Recent dramatic advances in adult stem cell research (which does no harm and ends no lives) combined with the number of medical advances derived from adult stem cell research should make the issue of embryonic stem cell "research" a moot point. I suspect that the determination to continue pushing for embryonic stem cell "research" has more to do with abortion politics than with a genuine concern for the sick and dying. After all, if we establish protection for human lives at such an early stage, how can we consistently protect the "right" to have a baby killed by dismemberment for profit?

You have been given the privilege and responsibility to bear the sword to protect the most vulnerable from exploitation and death from unethical "science." I urge you to use your vote in Congress to defend life. At the very least, you should show courage and integrity by demanding that all of Congress be held accountable for any change in policy on this divisive issue.