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Cancer Health Center

Stem Cell Funding to Face Senate Battle

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But Specter responded, "A discarded embryo is not on its way to life." And Harkin held up a piece of paper marked with a pencil dot, emphasizing that the dot was the size of one of the embryos in question. He asked, "Are we going to keep them in liquid nitrogen forever?"

The Senate will debate the legislation later this year, Specter said Wednesday, possibly before the Memorial Day holiday.

Specter is enlisting celebrity support for his bill. "It would be a criminal waste not to use [stem cells]," said Christopher Reeve, who played Superman on the silver screen before being paralyzed in an accident. As the hearing's star witness, the wheelchair-bound actor insisted, "No obstacle should stand in the way of responsible investigation."

But the Family Research Council argued in a statement that "there need not be a trade-off between advances in medical research and the protection of innocent life. Does science serve human beings or do human beings serve science?"

Limiting research to adult stem cells "would be tying one hand behind our backs," said Allan Spiegel, MD, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. "If we don't do the research, [the cures] won't happen."


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