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Statement of Frances Kissling, CFFC President, on the Passage of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 (HR 3)

January 11, 2007

Washington, DC—Frances Kissling issued the following statement this morning:

“Catholics for a Free Choice joins with the majority of US Catholics who support embryonic stem cell research in applauding the House of Representatives’ passage of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (HR 3). We urge the Senate to consider and pass this legislation promptly.

“In a 2004 Belden Russonello & Stewart poll of Catholics, 72% of Catholic voters supported ‘allowing scientists to use stem cells obtained from very early human embryos to find cures for serious diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes and Parkinson’s.’

“Catholic views on embryonic stem cell research are consistent with core principles of Catholic social teaching which emphasize compassion and justice for those who are suffering or ill. As Catholics, we are committed to ethics-based, medically sound research and treatment that has as its first goal saving lives and enhancing the well being of individuals and families.

“We reject the extreme views of a small minority of Catholics and the US Catholic bishops who have consistently opposed embryonic stem cell research, falsely holding it hostage to an antiabortion agenda. We are painfully aware of the tragedies associated with diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, and believe that we need to embrace and support medical research into their cure, including research that uses embryonic stem cells. We stand with our colleagues in a wide range of religious denominations, in the major scientific bodies and with our brothers and sisters suffering from chronic, debilitating and deadly diseases whose lives are truly at stake in the debate over embryonic stem cell research.”

The House of Representatives passed HR 3 with 253 in favor and 174 against.  This is an increase of 15 from the 2006 vote, which was vetoed by President Bush. The Bill amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct and support research that utilizes human embryonic stem cells, regardless of the date on which the stem cells were derived from a human embryo. Research is limited to: (1) the stem cells were derived from human embryos donated from in vitro fertilization clinics for the purpose of fertility treatment and were in excess of the needs of the individuals seeking such treatment; (2) the embryos would never be implanted in a woman and would otherwise be discarded; and (3) such individuals donate the embryos with written informed consent and receive no financial or other inducements. [Congressional Research Service]