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Stem Cell Research

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"It's time to lift the political barriers blocking the stem cell research that could treat or cure diseases like Parkinson's. I believe that science can bring hope to our families. I want America to lead the world in the medical breakthroughs of the future. There's no time to wait. At stake are millions of lives. I'm John Kerry and I approved this message because America can do better. It's time to take America in a new direction."

Senator John Kerry made these remarks in a 30-second television ad which aired before the 2004 presidential election. This ad was aired in "battleground" states, states in which both candidates would have needed for a victory. The stem cell research issue began to affect the presidential election August 2003 when Senator Kerry made vocal the lack of effort that President Bush is exerting in his policies. In my research I will show how politics and stem-cell research are intertwined with one another and that they do relate with politics. I will first give a brief definition of stem cell research, and then I will show both sides of the issue from the 2004 presidential election, lastly I will show how it affects politicians in personal ways.

Before the stem cell research issue concerning President Bush and Senator Kerry should be addressed, an overview of stem cell research in general is imperative to gaining a better understanding on the candidates' position. First of all, stem cells are called "non-programmed" cells in that they can differentiate into specific cells to certain areas of the body. They are derived from fertilized embryos or unfertilized eggs. These cells can replace damaged cells as well as malignant cells anywhere in the body by forming solid and healthy tissue walls. Thus, stem cells offer hope to people afflicted with fatal and incurable diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. In the past three years, stem cells have been discovered and successfully derived in areas of the body such as the bone marrow, spinal cord, and more remarkably, the umbilical cord. These undifferentiated cells could someday overcome great leaps and bounds if utilized accordingly. But from the antagonistic standpoint, some people feel that stem cell research equates abortion since the culling of stem cells involves killing the embryo. President Bush is passionately against abortion, yet he has taken a significant step in furthering stem cell research; at the same time, though, he is not taking a large enough step.

Although President Bush has taken great strides in the furthering of stem cell research, he has enforced boundaries that undermine the reason for this intricate research. In 2001, he was the first president to legally fund stem cell research, a fact that the Kerry campaign tended to overlook but the Republican Party takes great pride in. First Lady Laura Bush has mentioned in the past "Although you might not know about it from listening to the news lately, the president also looks forward to medical breakthroughs that may arise from stem cell research." Unfortunately, President Bush has put a ban on researching new human embryos and eggs and developing new lines of stem cells. New lines of stem cells would make available a plethora of cells at different developmental fetal stages. These stages are crucial to the elimination of any disease, for scientists can determine at what particular stage it appears. When concerning lines of stem cells, the future to find various cures looks dark. Out of the 78 existing stem cell lines, only 19 of them are effectively accessible, for the remaining 59 are infested with a layer of mouse cells, which display an uncertain therapeutic value in a human. What I mean by this is that although the genetic predisposition of humans and animals are shockingly similar, diagnosing severities of a disease according to dosage are quite dissimilar. In contrast to President Bush's stance, Senator Kerry is taking a different approach to overcome the perpetual battle of disease.

Senator Kerry's stance on stem cell research takes on an entirely different approach. If he had been elected, Kerry planned to quadruple federal spending on stem cell research to an enormous 100 million dollars. Most importantly, he wanted to remove restrictions on stem cell lines, furthering stem cell research to lengths it has never yet seen. Senator Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards shared that it is "against our national character to look the other way while people are suffering." The Kerry campaign did all it could to alleviate the anguish of the afflicted. What Kerry stands for holds truth. For instance, in congress on February 11, 1998, Senator Kerry voted no on banning human cloning. Human cloning involves the usage of stem cells which can lead to developing healthy organs for the diseased-stricken. In addition to President Bush and Senator Kerry's conflicting views, many others are experiencing conflict across party lines.

Although President Bush and his administration have put restraints on stem cell research, his Republican Party feels differently on the subject. In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger voted yes on Proposition 71 stating, "I am, of course, a supporter of stem cell research. Research that we do now holds the promise of cures for tomorrow." California has always been a pioneer. They boldly led the way for the high-tech industry and now voters can help ensure they lead the way for the biotechnology industry. The resources are available California. They are the world's biotechnology leader and Proposition 71 will help ensure that we maintain that position while saving lives in the process. His decision has been thought to "put him at odds with the White House", but the governor is standing firm on his position. Proposition 71 allowed a $3 billion dollar bond for human embryonic stem cell research. Schwarzenegger's father-in-law, Sergeant Shriver, is a victim of Alzheimer's disease, and the governor and his wife, Maria, someday hope that stem cells can cure their father.

On the other hand, as for federal funding, there are mixed issues on that as well. "We have called on the new administration to make absolutely sure that no destructive stem cell research on embryos is done in this country, regardless of the source of funding," Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, told The New York Times. President George W. Bush has



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