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June 7, 2006|
Senator Santorum Explains His Support of ANT-OAR Research |
Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) responded to RNC/Life's May 19, 2006 edition of FaxNotes through a letter in which he expressed disappointment in the information it contained regarding his co-sponsorship, along with Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), of S.2754, an Amendment to Part B Title IV of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 284 et seq.).
FaxNotes relied on an analysis that appeared in the May 11th issue of Human Events written by Jaydee Hanson and Patrick F. Fagan, who is a highly respected pro-life leader of long-standing, and an article written for the May 7th edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer, along with the Act itself. Senator Santorum has asked that we "set the record straight," because he feels the information in both of those articles was misleading. In accordance with his request, we re-print his clarifying statements below:
"The bill will fund pluripotent stem cell research only if the cells are NOT obtained from a human embryo. That is clearly stated in the text of the bill. In order to ensure that no human embryos are harmed, the bill references the Dickey-Wicker definition found in the annual Labor/HHS appropriations bill. This definition has prevented all expenditure of federal funds for destruction of human embryos in research for the last nine years. Should any of the techniques create an embryo (healthy or unhealthy, disabled or 'perfect'), funding for that technique is clearly forbidden by the bill."
The subject of human embryonic stem cell research is highly complex. The ANT-OAR (Altered Nuclear Transfer-Oocyte Assisted Reprogramming) techniques advanced by members of the President's Council on Bioethics, involve a cloning process designed to produce pluripotent (embryo-like) stem cells without actually engendering a human embryo. Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, Director of Education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, describes the process in his article entitled "Stem Cells Without Embryos" (http://www.ncbcenter.org/FrTad_MSOOB_1.asp): ". . . OAR would propose to directly make pluripotent stem cells through the same series of steps as cloning. The big difference would happen at the very beginning of the process, when special genetic changes would be made in the DNA . . ." The ANT technique involves altering the nucleus (DNA) prior to the cloning process.
Cloning requires a female egg from which the nucleus has been removed. It is replaced with the nucleus containing the DNA from an adult cell taken from the entity (animal or human) to be cloned. Words like "reprogramming" and "alteration" of DNA are troubling to pro-lifers and others who question the wisdom of legislation such as that co-sponsored by Senators Santorum and Specter, that encourages scientific tampering, albeit with animals, with the beginnings of life.
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