- A petition to United States President George W. Bush and the 107th U.S. Congress -

My fellow Americans!

A battle rages in Washington D.C. as our leaders try to decide which is more ethical: to fund the use of surplus embryos from fertility clinics to explore vital stem cell research -- or to just discard the excess embryos?

For millions of American people and families suffering with such afflictions and diseases as Alzheimer's, ALS, Parkinson's, spinal cord injury, juvenile diabetes, heart disease and even cancer -- the choice is clear: FUND EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH.

Let's show our elected officials where we stand by signing this petition as "Americans in support of federally funded embryonic stem cell research conducted under strict ethical guidelines." Please read below and sign online!

Dear President Bush and members of the 107th Congress:

Deciding the critical issue of whether to allow Federal funds to be used for embryonic stem cell research, is a defining moment in both modern medicine and American history. I thank you for your very careful consideration.

Please understand that:

A YES vote offers real hope of ameliorating and even curing millions of ill and injured.

A NO vote would be as devastating to our hope as the afflictions are to our bodies.

I say "our" because I am a spinal cord injured quadriplegic on a ventilator and I'm writing this on behalf of the millions praying that you fund this research. My name is Bill Miller and my condition is functionally equivalent to that of actor and real life superman Christopher Reeve. For more about me visit: But this isn't just about me -- it's about millions -- of people to be helped and dollars to be saved, by curing diseases and afflictions and eliminating the future costs associated with them.

Of course most everyone supports research using adult stem cells. It's the versatile and more promising embryonic stem cells that are the source of the controversy.

The concern is for the frozen embryos that may one day produce the miracle of life if given the opportunity to reside inside a woman's body. But the fact is that many of the microscopic cell-clusters will not begin the journey toward birth and will simply be discarded, seemingly without moral significance. That needn't be! With your support these embryos can retain significant moral value and, ironically, may still take part in producing true miracles of life!

It's important to acknowledge that this is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. This is evidenced by the support from Senators on both sides of the aisle. It's not an abortion issue either. As Senator Gordon Smith, R-Oregon, said "Life does not begin in a petri dish; it begins with a mother. Being pro-life means helping the living as well."

We're talking about the most pro-life approach possible, and that's offering real hope of alleviating and possibly curing many of the major maladies that are demoralizing millions of Americans right now -- and will devastate millions more -- maybe even you.

Mr. President and members of Congress, we're all in this together. Whether it's our friends, our families, or ourselves -- government funding of stem cell research affects us PERSONALLY and your endorsing said research says that we may not have to be affected PERMANENTLY. Below is a summary of the position supported by the undersigned Americans and, again, thank you for your very careful consideration.


The real question here is whether the Government SHOULD fund embryonic stem cell research. The answer is YES. Absolutely! For several reasons:

1. Stem cell research, on a whole, represents probably the most exciting field of medical research that society has ever seen. Why? Because stem cells have the unique ability to become any type of specialized cell and/or tissue in the body. Which means the potential benefits of stem cell research could possibly include the elimination of some of the most debilitating and devastating diseases and conditions known to man, including but not limited to Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's (ALS), spinal cord injury, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Now, the Bush Administration is proposing a whopping $2.8 BILLION in funding for new medical research at the National Institute of Health, the largest single-year increase ever proposed for the NIH! Do we dare tell our scientists -- and the persons and families affected by the aforementioned afflictions -- that these considerable government funds cannot be used to support this most promising area of potentially curing research? Of course not.

2. Embryonic stem cell research is proceeding and will continue to proceed in the private sector and in countries like Great Britain, Israel, and Australia. In the U. S., Clinton Administration guidelines said funding may be granted for research that would use cells from embryos that are created, but no longer needed, for in vitro fertilization. The point not to miss is this: Yes, there are valid and appropriate moral and ethical concerns related to the use of embryonic stem cells. But these delicate issues and tissues can be more closely monitored and regulated if the research is Federally funded! Embryonic stem cell research is going to happen anyway (albeit on a much smaller scale if our Government's pockets aren't open), why not have the NIH exercise control over who gets the grants and oversee that the research is conducted under strict ethical guidelines?

3. Dr. Douglas A. Melton, chairman of Harvard University's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, said that while he supports research using stem cells from adults, he remains convinced that both embryonic and adult cells need to be examined more closely. "My view is we are presently so ignorant of which cells are likely to be useful for treatment, both avenues should be aggressively pursued," he said. So it's entirely possible that adult stem cells could prove more beneficial for healing, after all, most stem cells used would be inserted into adult environments for things like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Furthermore, researchers in Sweden have located stem cells in the brain, whereas conventional thinking was that stem cells didn't exist anywhere in the Central Nervous System. I would think that stem cells to be used in the CNS would have the greatest success if they came from the CNS. And there are techniques being developed to acquire stem cells in less controversial fashion. The people that cloned the sheep Dolly, PPL Therapeutics, took a cow's skin cell and from it made a stem cell, which they turned into a heart cell. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh collaborated with a University of California at Los Angeles doctor and were able to show that fat, yes that unsightly spare tissue, may be a plentiful source of stem cells. A group from the Anthrogenesis Corporation said that they can extract cells from the placenta that are equivalent to embryonic stem cells. And a team from the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center, took nasal tissue (olfactory neuroepithelium) off human cadavers, believe it or not, and were able to turn it into viable stem cells. Which is another example of how we might be able to take cells from the patient to heal the patient. So embryonic stem cells may not be needed at all, fund the research and time will tell. Like Dr. Melton said, we are presently ignorant as to which cells and techniques may be most effective for certain treatments, and so we need to explore all avenues aggressively.

4. Embryonic stem cell research is supported by more than 123 organizations (consisting of patient groups, academic institutions, and medical societies) including these:

Alliance for Aging Research, The ALS Association, American Association for Cancer Research, American Medical Association, American Pediatric Society, American Society for Cell Biology, American Society of Human Genetics, Association of American Medical Colleges, Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs, Canavan Research Fund, Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, Coalition of Advocates for Research on the Eye (CARE), The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, Colorectal Cancer Network, The Endocrine Society, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, International Myeloma Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International, Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, National Health Council, Project A.L.S., and the Society for Pediatric Research.

To President Bush and members of Congress:

The bottom line is that with appropriate support, many diseases and conditions can and will be ameliorated and possibly cured in due time. Many millions of Americans will be helped and many billions of dollars will be saved. The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation says that as much as $400 billion in future costs will be saved, just by curing spinal cord injuries. And as I sit in my power wheelchair, dictating this to my voice-operated computer, please tell me, Mr. President and members of Congress, that YOU ARE going to fund the research that may one day allow me to stand up and shake your hand.


William A. Miller, Leesburg, Florida


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