THE BLOG
10/26/2012 02:04 pm ET | Updated Dec 26, 2012

17 Men With an Anti-cure Stance

What would you do, if you found an enemy in your house?

Would you let him move in and take over--or encourage him to vacate the premises?

Regarding the House of Representatives, there are 17 Congressmen whom I believe we should show the electoral door.

These are men whose anti-woman, anti-cure beliefs are so extreme as to affect even their handling of the economy -- read on to see why.

First, all of these men oppose embryonic stem cell research: Some go so far as to support "personhood," that bizarre ideology which advocates full legal rights for fertilized eggs -- at the expense of the woman.

Personhood has been overwhelmingly rejected by voters whenever it reached the ballot, twice in Colorado and most recently in Mississippi.

Personhood not only threatens a woman's reproductive freedoms, removing forever her right to choose an abortion at any stage (no exceptions for rape or incest), but would also ban numerous forms of birth control including most likely "the pill."

Astonishingly, it could even criminalize or cruelly alter the in vitro fertilization process, which has brought joy to so many childless couples.

What do the experts think?

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine: "The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) is strongly opposed to measures granting constitutional rights or protections and "personhood" status to fertilized reproductive tissues."

If a microscopic fertilized egg (blastocyst) is re-defined as a full human being, then it could become a criminal act for even discarded cells to be used in research for cures.

But the economy is the number one issue? Read the article, "Will Health Costs Bankrupt America?" in Forbes magazine. It states: "Health costs are by far the biggest threat to the nation's fiscal health in the long run."

The vast majority of health costs are due to chronic (incurable) disease or disability.

According to a publication by Johnson & Johnson publication, chronic diseases are responsible for 83 percent of all health care spending. In addition, 96 percent of Medicare spending and about 83 percent of Medicaid spending is for people with chronic conditions.

In 2009, the cost of chronic disease equaled the national debt for the year: $1.65 trillion for chronic disease against a deficit of $1.60 trillion.

How do we deal with such mountainous expenses?

Unless we intend to abandon our loved ones, we have only two choices: continue bankrupting ourselves keeping folks alive who are never going to get well -- or find ways to alleviate their suffering.

Embryonic stem cell research may be the most direct pathway to vitally-needed cures.

But could newer techniques make Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) research unnecessary?

A Nobel Prize winner this year was Shinya Yamanaka, whose method of turning skin cells into embryonic-like cells, (induced Pluripotentiary Stem cells, or iPS) is heralded as a possible substitute for ESC research.

But even the Japanese government, rightly bursting with pride about their native son's accomplishments, acknowledged there are risks (including the potential for cancer) involved with the method.

Yamanaka himself, now headquartered in California, is a strong supporter of embryonic stem cell research, and has worked with this method for years. It is the foundation of his Nobel Prize-winning work. Unresolved and potentially serious problems remain with the substitute method.

For example, there are problems of cell "memory" in the newer method.

What if a skin cell (reprogrammed by iPS into a nerve cell) was implanted into an injured spine -- where it then "remembered" it was a skin cell -- and turned back to its original form?

"Five recent surveys...show that the reprogramming process...of iPS ...can induce genetic...abnormalities in these cells. The studies raise concerns...for future applications of iPSCs."--Martin F. Pera, "The Dark Side of Induced Pluripotency", Nature, Vol 471, March 2011

But the ultimate word on stem cells must come from the premiere organization of stem cell researchers -- the International Society of Stem Cell Research (ISSCR).

From their recent article:

"While many scientists are very optimistic about the future of this new research, some people in political circles have incorrectly interpreted this enthusiasm as a verdict that research on human ES cells is no longer necessary. This conclusion is not yet scientifically justified.

[...]

In the few years in which human ES cells have been available for experimental and preclinical research, human ES cells have already entered human clinical trials. Trials have already started, or will soon start, with cells derived from human ES cells to promote retinal regeneration, recovery after stroke, spinal cord injury, blood diseases, heart diseases, diabetes, and other conditions."

Here is a list of 17 Congressmen who would block, de-fund, or criminalize the research. I do not pretend this is a complete list; also, if anyone wishes to have his name removed, he need only post on his website that he believes in embryonic stem cell research and I will happily remove him from the list.

  • DAN LUNGREN, California, 3rd district -- opposes.

  • JEFF DENHAM, California, 10th district -- opposes.
  • TONY STRICKLAND, California, 26th district -- opposes.
  • MIKE COFFMAN, Colorado, 6th district -- for personhood.
  • JOE COORS, Colorado, 7th district -- for personhood.
  • ADAM HASNER, Florida, 22nd district -- blocked funding for embryonic stem cell research in Florida universities.
  • ALLEN WEST, Florida, 18th district -- opposes.
  • STEVE KING, Indiana, 4th district -- opposes.
  • TOM LATHAM, Indiana, 3rd district
  • CHIP CRAVAACK, Minnesota, 8th district -- for personhood.
  • JOHN KLINE, Minnesota, 2nd district -- for personhood.
  • JOE HECK, Nevada, 3rd district -- opposes.
  • FRANK GUINTA, New Hampshire, 1st district
  • JIM RENACCI, Ohio, 16th district -- opposes.
  • BOB GIBBS, Ohio, 7th district -- for personhood.
  • FRANCISCO CANSECO, Texas, 23rd district -- for personhood.
  • JOHN KOSTER, Washington, 1st district -- for personhood.
  • Voters in these gentlemen's states may recognize them as against medical research -- and not allow them in the House.

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