For Immediate Release
January 3, 2007
Contact: Mark Bergman, 804-644-1966 ext. 222 (office); 804-269-1323 (cell)
Democratic leaders to propose stem cell research legislative package
Research would open the doors to cures for debilitating disease
Today, Virginia Democratic leaders announced their plans to introduce legislation that would keep open the doors for embryonic stem cell research helping millions of Virginians suffering from painful, debilitating diseases.
Delegate Brian Moran, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, will introduce legislation that would authorize embryonic stem cell research at Virginia’s colleges, universities and laboratories. This legislation will prevent closing the doors for embryonic stem cell research that could hold the cure to diseases afflicting millions of Virginians including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
The bill also would provide proper safeguards to ensure that the embryonic stem cells have been donated with informed consent without any financial or other inducement. The bill would also prohibit the use of embryonic stem cells for the purposes of cloning.
“The hope and opportunity that embryonic stem cell research provides should never be closed to thousands of Virginians suffering in silence,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian Moran said. “We all know someone who has been the victim of a life-threatening disease like Parkinson’s or Cancer. Now we have a real chance to cure the incurable and it’s morally wrong to close the door.”
Delegate Mark Sickles will also submit similar legislation.
Last session, House Republican leaders pushed forward a budget amendment that would prohibit embryonic stem cell research in the Commonwealth, but it was defeated in conference committee.
Also, Senator Creigh Deeds and Janet Howell will sponsor legislation that would allow funds from the Virginia Christopher Reeves Fund to be used towards embryonic stem cell research.
“This isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue but an issue of allowing medical research to provide hope for Virginians suffering from diseases like Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes, among others,” Senator Howell said. “We need to make sure the Commonwealth of Virginia leads the way on this cutting edge research that will save lives.”
“Virginia can’t afford to say no to the hope and promise of embryonic stem cell research,” said Senator Deeds. “This year we have the opportunity to invest in research that one day may provide the cure for nature’s most debilitating diseases.”
Even Republicans like former first lady like Nancy Reagan voiced support for embryonic stem cells research: “There are so many diseases that can be cured, or at least helped, that we can’t turn our backs on this. We’ve lost so much time already. I can’t bear to lose any more.” [Letter, Judiciary Committee hearing on March 19, 2003]
Embryonic stem cells are better equipped than adult stem cells for scientific research. Unlike adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells contain two salient features important to research: 1) they can divide to a great extent because their proliferative capacity is far greater than stem cells isolated from adults; and 2) they can form (virtually) any cell type. [Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Canada]