The two Democrats in Iowa’s congressional delegation held a news conference in Ankeny today (Monday) to criticize President’s Bush veto of a bill that would have expanded stem cell research.
Congressman Leonard Boswell and Senator Tom Harkin invited a woman and her daughter who are staunch advocates of such research because they believe it will find a cure to juvenile diabetes. Eleven-year-old Karli Borcherding says her dream is that some day there’ll be a cure for juvenile diabetes and she can go “back to being just a normal kid.”
Her pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, so she has to take shots of insulin to stay alive. She takes at least four shots of insulin per day, injected into her legs or stomach. She tests her blood sugar levels at least six times a day.
“Diabetes is not fun. At Halloween, I could not have any of the candy I got from trick-or-treating. On Valentine’s Day, only two people gave me sugar-free candy and I felt really bad,” Karli says. “I want to be able to eat cake on my birthday…I want to be able to go to the State Fair and eat corn dogs, minidonuts, ice cream and funnel cakes. None of these things will happen without a cure.”
Karli’s mother, Darci, says being the parent of a child who has diabetes is terrifying and heartbreaking. “If you’ve ever avoided going to the grocery store after church because that’s when they give out all the samples, then you know,” she says. “If you’ve ever dreamed of your daughter’s wedding day and know that without a cure she will wear a garter belt on one leg and an insulin pump on the other, then you know.”
The Borcherdings contend stem cell research is close to finding a cure for Karli. Congressman Boswell says stem cell research might provide the cures to all sorts of diseases, including Karli’s diabetes. “Now if there’s any way, any way that we could alieviate that and cure that, then why wouldn’t we do everything we can?” Boswell asks.
Senator Harkin says expanded stem cell research would save lives. Harkin vows that the president’s veto will not be the “last word” on this issue, partly because polls show over 70 percent of Americans support the research associated with stem cells. “It’s just my hope that somehow we can get around this,” Harkin says. “We can’t do it this year.” The clock is running out for new bills in Congress this year, and President Bush remains in office ’til January, 2009.
Harkin calls the president’s veto absurd. “Once again, the president stakes out an extreme, narrow, ideological position that flies in the face of science, common sense and compassion,” Harkin says.