16 Nov Standing up for stem cell research
Diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, juvenile diabetes and spinal cord injuries affect millions of American families – including my own. Stem cell research, which is being pioneered in Wisconsin, may one day offer a cure to some of these diseases. But these cures will continue to elude us if we allow partisan political ideology to get in the way of the vital work of scientists.
Recently the Wisconsin Legislature sent me a bill that would have criminalized scientific techniques that hold great potential for offering cures to humanity’s oldest diseases. Advocates disguised the bill as an attempt to ban human reproductive cloning – something that everyone agrees is unacceptable, and is already prohibited by the federal government. The real purpose of this bill was to limit stem cell research in the name of far right-wing ideology.
I think any parent would agree that they would do anything – absolutely anything – to make sure that their child is free from pain and protected from harm. For parents whose child is suffering from juvenile diabetes, it is unthinkable that the Legislature would put politics ahead of their child’s well being.
Thankfully, I have a strong veto pen, and I was able to put it to use to strike down this thoughtless legislation.
Stem cell research holds the promise of curing not only juvenile diabetes, but spinal cord injuries and Parkinson’s disease – and it holds the promise of hope and a better life for those afflicted with debilitating diseases.
Allowing our scientists to search for cures to the world’s deadliest diseases is not about being liberal or conservative. It’s about being compassionate. And respect for human life means you don’t turn your back on cures that can save lives.
Wisconsin has a long history of scientific innovation. Our research institutions and pioneering scientists like Jamie Thomson are known worldwide. The research they conduct is done with the highest possible ethical standards.
In addition, every year, Wisconsin’s biotech firms contribute $6.9 billion to the state’s economy and account for more than 22,000 jobs.
Continuing this research is a win-win for our state. Unfortunately, our state Legislature doesn’t see that.
It’s more than a little ironic that, in the same week that the Legislature passed this bill to restrict stem cell research, the National Institute for Health designated Madison’s WiCell as the National Stem Cell Bank.
The National Institutes of Health made Wisconsin home to the nation’s first and only National Stem Cell Bank. And from scientists in their labs, to the entrepreneurs with an idea, to the venture capitalists who want to invest, to the teachers and professors educating our young minds, Wisconsin is leading the way in the biotech industry.
Yet we have a Legislature that is so out of touch with the concerns of Wisconsin and so out of touch with the future of Wisconsin, they are trying in any way possible to stand in the way of the groundbreaking research going on here. Stem cell research is also under attack in Washington, where members of the senate have so far refused to support legislation to lift President Bush’s restrictions on stem cell research, which scientists agree have slowed their progress to find life-saving cures. I hope that the senate will quickly take action on this important bill.
As Governor, I will continue to urge support for stem-cell research at both the state and federal level – not only because it’s important to Wisconsin’s economy, but because Wisconsin scientists may one day provide cures that will truly change the world.
I understand that it is probably too late for my mother, who has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for many years. But I do not understand how anyone could close the door on research that offers hope to millions of families around the world.
This is an honorable fight, it’s a good fight, and it’s one we cannot afford to lose.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.