The Iowa Senate has by the narrowest of margins approved a bill that would lift state restrictions on stem cell research using human embryos. Governor Chet Culver’s staff assembled a group of researchers and others interested in the bill’s passage moments later to speak at a statehouse news conference.
Doctor Mark Anderson, a University of Iowa researcher, says stem cell research holds "astounding" potential. "It provides the potential to replace tissue in diseases where present…treatments are inadequate — in diabetes, in neurological diseases like Parkinson’s Disease and in heart disease," he says. Anderson says "laboring" under the current restrictions is like building a house without all the available tools.
The University of Iowa is one of 14 research centers currently working on a "cell therapy study" with patients who have "chronic, persistent heart pain" according to Anderson. Quentin Boyken of West Des Moines has a 17-year-old son who suffers from juvenile diabetes and Boyken says he and his wife pray every night for a cure.
"We believe stem cell research may lead to discoveries that may produce an infinite supply of…cells that could cure Eric and all others with Type I diabetes," he says. Rick Langel of Ankeny also backs stem cell research using human embryos because he believes it could find a cure for his daughter who also has diabetes.
"As a Christian, I believe that life begins at conception. We can do this research without destroying life," Langel says. "I don’t want to see human cloning. I don’t know anyone else who does. Please make sure that is clearly not allowed, but please allow the research to happen which people do want."
Governor Culver says he’s going to forward the statements the two fathers made to every member of the Iowa House. The bill cleared the Iowa Senate on a 26-to-24 vote on Wednesday afternoon, and will next be considered in the Iowa House.
Senator Nancy Boettger, a Republican from Harlan, was among the "no" votes because she contends the research process does create a human clone. "Despite the attempts to employ various euphemisms — scientifically, genetically what is created is a human being," Boettger said. "…It is neither fish, nor foul; money nor cow. It is human."