Stem cell research one of main priorities in Congress

Adriana Olivarez

The new speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has already proposed federal funds for stem cell research as one of her top priorities. And it is only a matter of time before we again hear the religious right complain about this research degenerating human life, the way they did earlier during the Bush administration when the president vetoed the bill. Clearly we do not live in a country where there is a separation of church and state.

The new proposal is to use extra embryos produced by in vitro fertilization clinics that would otherwise be thrown away.

The main problem these religious groups have with the use of embryonic cells for research is that they seem to think that immediately after a woman becomes pregnant, a living, breathing baby is inside of her body. They believe a baby’s life begins at the time of conception, so using these embryonic cells would compromise the sanctity of that life.

The Christian extremists also incorrectly believe adult stem cells can replace the use of embryonic cells. Embryonic cells are unique because they could be used to create almost all types of tissue, repairing any tissues that disease may have already destroyed.

However, not all Christians share the widely known opposition to embryonic stem cells, according to the Institute of Progressive Christianity. Many believe that this type of research is justified if it could potentially save lives. But the right will not hear of it.

Congress will again have to challenge a president who claims to be “pro-life,” which is perhaps the biggest hypocrisy of his administration given the fact that the U.S has the highest death penalty and murder rate. What also flies in his face are the innocent civilians who were killed when the U.S. invaded countries in the Middle East.

Since a lot of citizens are now becoming aware of the great possibility of saving lives through the use of embryonic cells, the opposition is now saying that it would take many years until we see the real results of the use of embryonic cells and that the federal funds should not be granted based on this argument alone. But if not now, when?

I say the more time we wait to fund this research, the more people will die needlessly when something could have been done to save their lives or ease their suffering.

Scientists have provided enough research to prove that there is a big chance of curing many types of diseases. According to the National Institute of Health, resources for stem cell research could potentially cure Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, traumatic spinal cord injury, Purkinje cell degeneration, Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, heart disease, and vision and hearing loss.

I agree with comedian Margaret Cho, who once said that these Christian right wingers should be preparing for the rapture instead of worrying so much about pro-life issues. Trying to save the lives of the people living in this world is truly pro-life, while ssboycotting the efforts of Congress and the medical community is not.