Margaret Tuchman joins NJ Rep. Rush Holt (D) in Stem Cell Advocacy
||On July 9, 2001 Margaret Tuchman, President of The Parkinson Alliance, joined 12th District, New Jersey Representative, Rush Holt (D), at the State House in Trenton, New Jersey to support stem cell research. Also addressing the press in support of stem cell research were Ron Heyman of the New Jersey Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, pediatric oncologist Dr. Barton Kamen, and Beverly DeVergillo and her son, Tony, who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
"Stem cells are invaluable in medicine because they are unique—they generate all the other cells in our bodies," Rep. Holt said. "Under NIH guidelines, the only embryos that can be used for harvesting of stem cells are surplus cells generated in private fertility clinics—embryos that would otherwise be destroyed."
Rep. Holt, whose wife is a physician, noted that stem cell research has been conducted for years, and stem cell transplants already have helped save the lives of children with cancer: In 1979, 25 percent of children with the most common type of childhood leukemia were cured compared to about 75 percent today.
"To undertake such a promising line of research is the moral thing to do," Rep. Holt said. "If you don’t think stem cell research is important to New Jerseyans, just ask your neighbor whose child has diabetes or your friend who has Parkinson’s disease."
Rep. Holt explained that existing NIH guidelines restrict stem cell harvesting to surplus cells generated in private fertility clinics—embryos that would otherwise be destroyed. These guidelines were developed specifically so that no tax dollars would be used to obtain these embryos and that no abortions would be encouraged. "It is unfortunate some would turn this research opportunity into an abortion issue," Rep. Holt said. "But the truth is active stem cell research would not result in a single additional abortion."
"Lives are not at risk from stem cell research," Rep. Holt said. "But lives can be, and will be, saved if the research continues."