NYS Seal For Immediate Release:
March 19, 2003

Assembly To Act On Stem Cell Research Bill

Christopher Reeve touts Silver 'landmark' measure

Speaker Sheldon Silver and Christopher Reeve The state Assembly today is expected to consider legislation, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), aimed at fostering biomedical research, while setting critical guidelines in the use of human stem cells in efforts to cure some of the worlds most debilitating diseases.

Silver noted that Assembly action on the landmark measure would coincide with a major conference in Albany this afternoon on bioethical issues related to stem cell research and human therapeutic and reproductive cloning.

Silver is scheduled to address the conference and also to conduct a news conference with actor/director Christopher Reeve, who sustained spinal cord injuries in an accident and is an outspoken activist on behalf of the possibilities stem cell research holds in successfully treating these conditions. Reeve has strongly endorsed Silver's proposal.

Speaker Sheldon Silver

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Provisions of the bill (A.6249-A) would clarify the differences between human stem cell research and reproductive cloning. The legislation also would allow this research to continue, while completely prohibiting reproductive cloning.

"Reproductive cloning, which holds many ethical and moral taboos, is a practice we want to ensure does not take place in New York State," said Silver. "However, stem cell research is a valuable tool that can place society on the brink of addressing some of society's most debilitating illnesses. Stem cell research holds promise for the legions of people who are stricken with spinal cord injuries, infertility and Alzheimer's disease."

Citing the millions of Americans who suffer from crippling diseases, such as Parkinson's disease and Tourette's Syndrome, Silver said, "For those who face the daily challenge of these life-altering diseases and hold the faith that a cure can and will be found, we owe it to them to tap every feasible resource to ease their burden, as well as help answer other questions of medicine and biology."

photo "Human stem cell research and therapeutic cloning offer immense promise for developing new treatment and prevention methods for many debilitating diseases, including Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes and Parkinson's disease," said Assembly member Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), who chairs the Assembly Committee on Health.

"Because the federal government remains gridlocked on the issue of stem cell research, it now falls to the states to move the field forward. As a resident of New York State and speaking on behalf of countless others suffering from diseases and disabilities, I want to express my deepest gratitude to the Assembly for passing legislation that will allow our scientists to unlock the potential of somatic cell nuclear transfer, aka therapeutic cloning. We now call on the Senate and Governor Pataki to follow through and make New York the second state in the country to respond to the will of 70 percent of the American people," Reeve said.

"It is with great pride that the Assembly Majority continues its quest to put New York State in the forefront of biomedical research," said Silver. "The potential benefits of this groundbreaking research are far too great to ignore."

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New York State Assembly
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