Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Bunning pressed on stem cells

Opponent backs wider research

By Patrick Crowley
Enquirer staff writer

FORT WRIGHT - In a harsh challenge, U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Daniel Mongiardo called on Republican incumbent Jim Bunning to change his position on stem cell research.

Mongiardo, a Democrat and surgeon from eastern Kentucky, supports an expanded use of stem cells in medical research.

Bunning, a Southgate Republican seeking a second Senate term, supports limited use of the human cells. But in a position taken by many conservatives - including President Bush - Bunning does not favor harvesting stem cells from human embryos.

'Ethical balance'

"Sen. Bunning supports stem cell research and realizes the possibilities it can have to help cure diseases," said David Young, Bunning's campaign manager.

"Sen. Bunning believes we need to ensure both a scientific and ethical balance in this arena," Young said Tuesday.

Scientists believe stem cells can be used to repair organs or treat diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. But because stem cells are typically removed from days-old human embryos that are later destroyed when the cells are extracted, many anti-abortion activists oppose the research.

Bush has ordered sharp restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, allowing it only for stem cell lines created before Aug. 9, 2001.

Issue 'hijacked'

Mongiardo said those restrictions limit the research that can be performed on stem cells.

"As a doctor I have seen too many patients suffer from disease that stem cells might cure," Mongiardo said in a statement. "Yet President Bush and politicians like Jim Bunning on the extreme right have hijacked this issue for their own narrow political gain.

"Politics of the extreme right, not science, stand in the way of groundbreaking stem cell research that could help save millions of lives," Mongiardo said. "Why does Sen. Jim Bunning stand in the way of curing diseases harming so many Kentuckians?

"We can't afford to ignore research that holds such promise to end so much pain and suffering," he said. "As a U.S. senator, I will not turn my back on these families."


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