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Doyle urges passage of federal stem cell bill

Madison, Wis. - Meeting with families across the state that have a personal interest in medical research, Gov. Jim Doyle called on Congress to act on House Resolution 810, a bill that would lift the ban on federal funding for research on new human embryonic stem cell lines.

Doyle, traveling to Cottage Grove, Eau Claire, and Green Bay, called on Congress to move on the bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2005 but remains bottled up in a Senate committee.

"These families and countless like them hope that science may one day unlock the cures to diseases long thought incurable," Doyle said. "We cannot turn our backs on these families. I'm urging Congress to allow funding for new research, and bring this bipartisan legislation to a vote before they adjourn in August."

Banning the ban?

In May of 2005, the House passed HR 810 on a bipartisan vote of 238 to 194. Fifty House Republicans, including the bill's chief sponsor, Delaware's Michael Castle, joined 187 Democrats and one independent in supporting the bill.
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The measure, which is not likely to survive a presidential veto, would permit the Secretary of Health and Human Services to fund research on new stem cell lines. The bill seeks to overturn a ban on all federal funding for research done on human embryonic stem cell lines derived after President Bush, citing moral objections, announced the ban on Aug. 9, 2001.

HR 810 was placed on the Senate's legislative calendar in June of 2005, but has yet to be voted out of that body's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The Senate version, S471, is co-sponsored by Wisconsin's two Democrat senators, Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, and its main sponsor is Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania.

In the House, the Wisconsin delegation voted along party lines, with Democrats Dave Obey, Ron Kind, Tammy Baldwin, and Gwen Moore voting with the majority. Republicans Jim Sensenbrenner, Tom Petri, Paul Ryan, and Mark Green voted to oppose lifting the ban.

Green, the Republican nominee for governor, supports the President's policy, which restricts federal funding to existing human embryonic stem cell lines, but does not limit federal funding on other kinds of stem cell research. These other types include human adult stem cells, which Green said have resulted in more scientific applications than human embryonic stem cell lines.

Family remedy

In his trip across the state, Doyle touted the potential cures that could result from research on human embryonic stem cells. In Cottage Grove, he met with Laura and Bill Weber and their 12-year-old son, Justin, who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 9, and will be insulin dependent until a cure for diabetes is found.

In Eau Claire, Doyle met with three families: Dave Okas, and his 12-year-old daughter, Shannon; Alana Schutts and her 12-year-old daughter, Hannah; and Sharon McIlquham and her 13-year-old daughter, Rachel. All three children are battling juvenile diabetes.

On his last visit of the day, he met with Cindy and Patrick LeClair of Green Bay, and their 19 year-old son, Christopher, a freshman at St. Norbert College. Christopher, who has diabetes, is involved with medical research at St. Norbert and hopes to work on finding a cure for juvenile diabetes.

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