Unlike Nationally, Embryonic Stem Cell Safeguards Put In Place During G.A. Session

On Monday President Barack Obama reversed a policy that limited taxpayer funding of research using stem cells that require the destruction of human embryos. Former President George W. Bush had implemented the restrictions in 2001 — limiting federal funding of such research to cell lines that already were in existence as of that date and thereby restricting the use of tax dollars for research requiring the destruction of additional embryos.  Contrary to media spin and some politicians, there was never a "ban on embryonic stem cell research."  Unfortunately, this change in policy not only encourages unethical research that takes human life, it is also a waste of our money on research that has proven a complete failure — a hoax — all in the name of a rabid abortion agenda (click here Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb's media statement and here to read about why embryonic stem cell research already is obsolete).

During this year's General Assembly, The Family Foundation and its pro-life partner, the Virginia Catholic Conference, worked hard to ensure that your Virginia tax dollars would not be used for this failed and unethical research.  The Commonwealth routinely invests in scientific research efforts on a variety of fronts. However, many of these biotechnology bills often include the potential to fund research using embryonic stem cells. In each case, we work overtime to amend the legislation to restrict funds to adult stem cell research and the institutions that are not willing to compromise human life for what is false hope. This effort keeps with policies won in 2004 and 2005 that restricted funding.

This year several biotech bills were advanced that could have opened the door for funding of unethical research. In past years we fought to successfully amend similar bills, often seeing the bills die because the patrons didn't want the ethical restrictions.

This year the battle was far more fierce. Three bills — SB 1338, HB 2444 and HB 2455 — all were promoted by the biotech industry and powerful lobbying groups. For several weeks they fought against amendments to their bills, but the House of Delegates repeatedly ensured the bills had ethical amendments thanks to the hard work of several members, including Delegates Sam Nixon (R-27, Chesterfield), John O'Bannon (R-73, Henrico), Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas) and Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg), among others. Of course, the Senate worked to remove the amendments, despite the strong efforts of several members, including Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Centreville), Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) and Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-27, Winchester).

In the closing hours of the General Assembly, advocates for the bills finally broke down and met with representatives of The Family Foundation and the Catholic Conference. Through negotiations, we were able to attach "enactment clauses" to the only surviving biotech bill, SB 1338, that ensures your Virginia tax dollars will not be used for unethical research that requires the destruction of human embryos or the use of fetal tissue from induced abortions.

While some are aware that human embryonic stem cell research has been a total failure while adult stem cells are already contributing dozens of treatments in the medical community (click here) this battle is likely to continue. Why some continue to insist on sending taxpayer money to failed research instead of investing in actual cures is difficult to comprehend, but unfortunately, the issue of embryonic stem cell research is less about science and more about politics.