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Hadassah Welcomes Senate Passage of Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act; Urges Bush to Reconsider Promised Veto

Ricky Cheung

HADASSAH WELCOMES SENATE PASSAGE OF STEM CELL RESEARCH ENHANCEMENT ACT; URGES BUSH TO RECONSIDER PROMISED VETO

(New York, NY -- July 18, 2006) -- Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, today applauded the Senate’s passage of legislation that would lift the Bush administration’s restriction on the use of federal funds for stem cell research, while expressing outrage at Presidents Bush’s vow to veto this critical bill.

The legislation passed the Senate today by a vote of 63-37. President Bush has promised to veto it in his first use of presidential veto power since he took office.

“With one stroke of the pen, the President is threatening to dismiss the will of the American people as it was expressed by the Senate vote today in support of the advancement of stem cell research,” said Hadassah’s National President June Walker. “It is immoral for our families, neighbors and friends to be held hostage to chronic diseases when their treatments are within our scientific grasp.”

Hadassah, a leading advocate for the advancement of stem cell research on both Capitol Hill and on a national grassroots level, reached out to win the support of key legislators in a struggle in which every vote counted down to the moment when roll was called. In May 2005, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist visited the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem where he toured the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center, which houses the second oldest stem cell line in the world.

Today, Hadassah appealed directly to Senator Frist to petition the President not to exercise his veto power against this bill.

“The 300,000 women of Hadassah and all Americans who are affected by chronic, debilitating disease, or have loved ones who suffer, are watching closely as our political leaders are on the cusp of reversing years of onerous restrictions on federal funding for critical research,” Walker said. “Sen. Frist, after you toured the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and were briefed on its latest stem cell developments, which you called ‘pioneering and very promising,’ we were hopeful that this legislation advancing the prospects for stem cell research’s success would be signed into law. We know that you, as a doctor, do not wish to see suffering and we thank you for all you’ve done so far in this regard. We appeal to you in the strongest of terms to do all within your power to see the passage of this legislation through.”

Polls show that as many as 75 percent of Americans favor pursuing cures to chronic disease through embryonic stem cell research. This legislation would allow federal funding for research on a dramatically increased number of stem cells lines, thereby exponentially increasing the potential of finding cures and treatment for 100 million Americans suffering from diseases such as juvenile diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer and spinal cord injuries.

“Today the Senate definitively demonstrated that stem cell research is not an issue that divides Americans by political party or faith,” Walker said. “The Senate’s vote has affirmed the sanctity of both human life and the spirit of free inquiry--two tenets of America’s spiritual and political life behind which the vast majority of Americans proudly stand.”

 

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