May 17, 2006

High Noon on Stem Cells for Bill Frist

The patient advocacy groups that have played such a key role in fighting for embryonic stem cell research are now calling on the Senate to vote up or down on the issue. This is a vote Bill Frist has been dreading and avoiding fo some time. Despite a lot of political contortions such as the recent Santorum-Specter alternative bill looks like this poker game is drawing to a close:
WASHINGTON, D.C.; May 16, 2006 - The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) announced today poll results revealing that nearly three-quarters of Americans support embryonic stem cell research and want the Senate to vote on federal funding for stem cell research.

When asked if they support embryonic stem cell research, seventy-two (72) percent of respondents favor it, up from sixty-eight (68) percent in 2005. Only twenty-four (24) percent opposed embryonic stem cell research, down from twenty-eight (28) percent a year ago.

When asked given what they know about stem cell research, should the Senate vote on H.R. 810, seventy (70) percent of those surveyed said "yes," while only eighteen (18) percent said "no" and twelve (12) percent were unsure.

At an event on Capitol Hill today, CAMR representatives, as well as Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) called on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) to schedule a vote on The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 810).

"America is ready for the Senate to vote 'yea' on H.R. 810 and for the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research," said Sean Tipton, president of CAMR. "Just as it does with other kinds of promising technological and medical research, the federal government must fund human embryonic stem cell research. Senate Majority Leader Frist needs to understand that if this bill does not get scheduled for a vote, we not only risk the lives and well-being of millions of Americans and their families, we also risk losing America's leadership position in the fields of science and medicine," added Tipton.

On May 24, 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 810 -- The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act -- with strong, bipartisan support. If this bill passes the Senate, this bill will override President Bush's August 9, 2001 executive order limiting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Thousands of scientists, including 80 Nobel laureates, recognize that current federal restrictions on stem cell research seriously hamper research in the United States.

"We believe that this legislation will pass the Senate, just as it did in the House, with strong bipartisan support," added Tipton. "We call on Senator Frist to schedule a vote on this important legislation before the one-year anniversary of hours passage next week. If you are one of the millions waiting for a cure or new treatment, a year is too long to wait for action. We need a vote and we need it now."

The poll was conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation with a nationwide random sample of 1,000 people the week of May 5, 2006, and carries a margin of error of +/- three (3) percent. More information about the poll and its results can be found at

- Art Caplan

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