Representing the 4th District of Connecticut

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Himes: President's Repeal of Stem Cell Ban Brings Hope to Suffering Patients

March 9, 2009
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Jim Himes today applauded President Obama’s repeal of the ban on federal funding of stem cell research, marking the second significant change to federal health policy since President Obama has taken office. Last week, Congressman Himes cosponsored the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 873), which will make this repeal permanent.

“Today’s repeal of the ban on stem cell research finally brings hope to millions of Americans suffering from paralysis, diabetes, and hundreds of other debilitating diseases.  For far too long, science has been held hostage to ideology,” said Congressman Himes. “Now, life-saving research can move forward and millions of American people will soon be able to harness its potential and access treatments to improve their lives.  This marks one more milestone of the change we have brought to Washington.”

In August of 2001, President Bush banned the use of federal funding for research on embryonic stem cell lines not already in existence on that date. Almost every research university in the country depends heavily on grants from the National Institute of Health, and the stem cells derived in earlier years do not meet the purity standards necessary for medical-stage experiments. As a result, the ban, in effect, prevented almost all universities from pursuing stem cell research because buildings, lab equipment, and any other resource that would be shared by a lab across projects could not be used by scientists that wanted to experiment with stem cells. This ban eventually resulted in the University of California constructing an entirely new building with non-NIH dollars, which is not a possibility for most research institutions.

The Executive Order signed by President Obama today reverses that ban which has no basis in science and was not required by any law. The Dickey-Wicker Amendment, the legislation that bans the creation of new stem cell lines with federal funding, is still technically law. Congressman Himes has cosponsored legislation to allow embryonic stem cells to be eligible for use in any research as long as the embryos meet certain ethical guidelines.

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Congressman Jim Himes represents Connecticut’s 4th District, which includes the communities of Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield,  Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, Norwalk, Oxford, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Stamford, Trumbull,  Weston, Westport, and Wilton.