WASHINGTON(December 20, 2005)--After attending President Bush's signing into law of the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 (H.R. 2520/S. 1317), Richard M. Doerflinger, Deputy Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement:
"This is wonderful news for the many thousands of suffering patients who can benefit from umbilical cord blood stem cell treatments. We are grateful to Congress and the President for enacting this legislation without further delay.
"The House of Representatives passed Rep. Chris Smith's legislation, to support and coordinate a nationwide public bank of cord blood stem cells, almost unanimously on May 24. Yet this urgently needed life-saving legislation was blocked for months in the Senate, held hostage to debates over far more controversial and speculative stem cell research requiring the destruction of human embryos. In the last days of this session the deadlock was finally ended, and Congress agreed on the kind of stem cell treatments that can begin saving patients' lives here and now.
"As Cardinal Keeler, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, said in his July 11 letter urging Senate approval of this bill: 'Umbilical cord blood stem cells have successfully treated thousands of patients with dozens of diseases. They also exhibit properties once associated chiefly with embryonic stem cells: They grow rapidly in culture, producing enough cells to be clinically useful in both children and adults; they can treat patients who are not an exact genetic match, without being rejected as foreign tissue; and they seem able to produce a wide array of different cell types.'"
"As Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, how appropriate that we can also celebrate the medical miracles made possible by cord blood retrieved immediately after live births. Congress and the President have given a wonderful Christmas present to patients in need."
The full text of Cardinal Keeler's July 11 letter is available at www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/stemcell/keelercord.pdf.