November 29, 2005

Another Catholic for Stem Cell Research

Folks, following up on the post below, here is a wonderful response from Frank Cocozzelli -- one of the true heros of the stem cell movement:


I am a Roman Catholic who is confined to a wheelchair because of muscular dystrophy.

I can't hug my children, can't dress myself or go to the toilet or take a shower without help.

I go to Church every Sunday and often take Communion, yet, I watch Church leaders condemn John Kerry for supporting this vital research, and praising men such as George W. Bush and Rick Santorum--both of whom take huge amounts of tobacco lobby contributions.

Taking tobacco money certainly isn't pro-life!

As a Catholic, the Jesus I believe in is a Jew. Jesus never abrogated His belief in the Jewish concept of healing lives in danger of death, known as pikuach nefesh.

Jesus lived his life on Earth according to Torah.

Today's Jews, in studying the same Torah Jesus lived by, concluded it would be a sin not to do this research.

Furthermore, an embryo existing outside the womb is not a fetus.  As such an embryo, before attaching itself to the uterine wall, can either split into two separate embryos or merge with another embryo to form a single embryo. Therefore until it becomes a fetus there is no certainty of an existing individual, the perquisite for ensoulment.

All three branches of Judaism, Islam, the Church of England, the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. as well as the United Church of Christ all support this research.

I know in my heart, Jesus has no problem with this research.

Just as Jesus healed through His ministry on Earth, so shall those who do this research.

Frank L. Cocozzelli, Esq.

John Hlinko @ 08:43 AM

Catholics for Stem Cell Research - Fight Back

Well, apparently some Catholic priests in Missouri -- claiming to speak on behalf of all Catholics -- have been using the pulpit to speak out against a stem cell initiative.   And yes, disgusting as it is, they've been using the "Nazi" comparisons to attack stem cell research.

Never mind that it's just plain incorrect, never mind that this really should be a violation of the tax-exempt status (they're not supposed to be political), let's focus on just one thing -- it's anti Christian.

I was raised a Catholic, and am proud of it.  And what the church is doing in Missouri is shameful.  When Jesus was asked to heal the sick -- he did it.  He had the power, and he did it.   We have the power -- why aren't we doing it?

Stem cell research battle moves into the pews
Missouri priests urge parishioners to oppose constitutional amendment

The Associated Press
Updated: 11:56 a.m. ET Nov. 28, 2005

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The battle over embryonic stem cell research moved into the pews Sunday, as Roman Catholic priests across Missouri urged churchgoers to oppose a petition seeking a constitutional amendment that would protect the controversial work.

The petition drive was announced last month by a group of business leaders, patient advocates and researchers as a response to legislative efforts to ban a type of stem cell research known as therapeutic cloning.

Missouri’s Catholic dioceses oppose it, and urged their priests statewide to begin a campaign Sunday aimed at keeping Catholics from signing the petition.

At St. Peter Catholic Church, across the street from the state Capitol, the Rev. James Smith quoted Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels and compared the cultivation of human embryos for research to the gruesome experiments performed on concentration camp occupants during World War II.

“The similarities of the arguments behind the destruction of life by the Nazis and the use of human embryos (for stem cell research) are scary,” he told hundreds of worshippers at a morning Mass. “There are real human lives that need our support and protection.”

The petition seeks to put a measure on the 2006 ballot that would amend the state constitution to state that stem cell research, therapies and cures allowed under federal law also are permitted in Missouri. The measure would prohibit human cloning, defined as the effort to create a baby by implanting an embryo that wasn’t fertilized by sperm.

Supporters argue stem cells may have the potential to cure spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other life-threatening diseases.

Opponents contend the use of embryonic stem cells involves creating human life to destroy it.

“Human embryos are not potential human beings. Human embryos are human beings with potential,” John Weaver, deacon of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Columbia, told worshippers Sunday.

Donn Rubin, chairman of the petition coalition, Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, said surveys show most Missouri Catholics support stem cell research. Republican Gov. Matt Blunt and former U.S. Sen. John Danforth, an ordained Episcopal priest and former U.N. ambassador, are among the measure’s supporters.

The petition drive must have about 145,000 valid signatures by May 9 to secure a spot on the November 2006 ballot.

A constitutional amendment would require a simple majority of voters to be enacted and would supersede any state laws.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

© 2005


John Hlinko @ 08:30 AM

November 09, 2005

Congrats Jon Corzine & Proof that Stem Cell Research is a Winning Issue

November 9, 2005
CONTACT: John Hlinko, 202-744-6525,

StemPAC Congratulates Jon Corzine on Victory; Cites Evidence Proving Stem Cell Research a “Winning Issue”

WASHINGTON – StemPAC – a national grassroots movement in support of stem cell research – today formally congratulated Senator Jon Corzine on his victory in yesterday’s race for governor of New Jersey. The group also hailed the race as a watershed event – one which proved that stem cell research was a “winning issue” – and cited evidence to back up its claim.

“Throughout Jon Corzine’s campaign, no other issue was more prominent than stem cell research,” said John Hlinko, political consultant with Grassroots Enterprise, and founder of StemPAC. “We salute Governor-elect Corzine for his leadership on this issue, and we trust that this provides a powerful example for other candidates that stem cell research is a winning issue.”

StemPAC noted the following points showing that stem cell research was key to this victory:

StemPAC also cited key evidence that the potency of stem cell research as a winning issue had grown throughout America, and not just in this race. According to a July, 2005 study by the Pew Research Center:

“The numbers make it clear – for Democrats and Republicans alike, stem cell research is a winning issue,” said Hlinko. “And for those who take the time to educate the voters, stem cell research can be THE winning issue.”

(see for evidence, and more on the Pew Research Center study)

About StemPAC

Launched in early July, 2005, StemPAC has already become one of the highest trafficked web sites in support of stem cell research, and has delivered tens of thousands of letters to Congress and the President on the issue. It recently gained widespread attention by producing a television advertisement to air in New Hampshire – site of the nation’s first presidential primary – urging Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to break with President Bush and support HR 810. Just days after the ad was announced, Senator Frist announced his support for the bill.

For more information, please see

John Hlinko @ 08:31 AM

November 08, 2005

From the Philly Inquirer -- they had it right!

Stem-cell research a 'political wedge'

By Kaitlin Gurney

Inquirer Trenton Bureau

In a gubernatorial race between two multimillionaires who promise to lower property taxes and clean up corruption, stem-cell research is one issue that presents a stark divide.

U.S. Sen. Jon S. Corzine has made embryonic stem-cell research a centerpiece of his Democratic campaign with a plan to bond $250 million or more to lure cutting-edge biotechnology projects to the state, which he promotes as the "cure corridor" of the United States.

He has mobilized families who hope the research will lead to cures for spinal-cord injuries, diabetes and other diseases to serve as grassroots political organizers, hosting house parties and rallies for his "New Cures Connection" campaign.

Republican businessmen Douglas Forrester rarely discusses stem-cell research. When pressed, he says he supports research on adult stem cells culled from spinal-cord fluid rather than on embryonic stem cells formed during the first days of pregnancy.

President Bush's decision to limit federal funding to embryonic stem-cell lines existing in 2001 was "in the right," Forrester has said.

Stem-cell research is becoming a political "wedge" issue much like abortion, said David Rebovich, a political-science professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J.

"Despite the partisan labels, these two guys aren't too distinguishable to the casual political observer," Rebovich said. "Their positions on this issue are so distinct they might motivate unaffiliated voters."

Forrester's position appeals to conservative groups like New Jersey's League of American Families. Executive director John Tomicki condemns Corzine for "running on hope and hype" and accuses him of "speculating" with taxpayers' money.

Some Republican political consultants fear Forrester's position could alienate independent voters, who are traditionally liberal on social issues.

"There's no question in my mind that the majority of New Jersey voters support stem-cell research," said David Murray, a GOP consultant. "The question is whether Corzine decides to exploit this issue on network television."

While Democrats are mostly united in support of stem-cell research, they are divided on how to fund it.

Corzine's proposal would establish a public-private partnership he calls the Edison Innovation Fund, which would combine state bond money with investments from biotechnology firms and private foundations to spur embryonic stem-cell research and offer research funding for nanotechnology and alternative energy. The state could invest more than $250 million if companies contribute heavily, Corzine advisers say.

Corzine's plan runs counter to one championed by acting Gov. Richard J. Codey, who came close to challenging Corzine for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Codey's proposal, focused exclusively on stem-cell research, is designed to lure prized scientists to the state with a $150 million laboratory for the fledgling Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey and a $230 million bond referendum for research grants.

The plan encountered opposition in June from legislators reluctant to commit to a potentially controversial proposal before their fall reelection campaigns, but the Codey administration is planning to push it again in the December lame-duck session.

Corzine has supported Codey's effort to build the laboratory using $150 million in bond money left over from the state's share of the national tobacco settlement but believes his own plan is superior for funding research.

"It's not that the governor's plan is wrong. It's just that the senator's plan is an A-plus and Codey's plan is a B-plus," said Carl Van Horn, a senior policy adviser for Corzine. "We believe the Edison Innovation plan is a better mousetrap."

Some stem-cell advocates who favored Codey's plan have defected to Corzine's camp. Ira Black, a neuroscientist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and a founding director of the Stem Cell Institute, said Codey's hope of passing his plan in the lame-duck session "just isn't realistic."

Black praised Corzine's Edison Innovation Fund as a bold proposal that would "galvanize the state, moving biotechnology forward in a way that should have been done a long time ago."

The Democrats' competing stem-cell plans, he noted, "are interesting melodrama that should be observed with a great deal of humor."

Other advocates, such as Tricia Riccio, a Warren County mother of a quadriplegic teenager, said she had not given up hope for Codey's proposals.

She is, however, the kind of voter Forrester fears: Riccio said she and her family would vote for Corzine solely because he supported embryonic stem-cell research, which she believes could someday allow her son Carl to walk again.

"My husband and I are lifelong Republicans who switched our parties because of the need for stem-cell research," Riccio said. "This issue matters more for us than anything else."

John Hlinko @ 09:23 PM

Letter to Senators Gregg and Sununu for NH Residents

Hi Everyone.  After being contacted by a wonderful citizens group in New Hampshire strongly advocating for stem-cell research, StemPAC has launched a special page just for them.  So if you live in New Hampshire and want a more personal letter to send to your senators, visit

Want to tell us about your stem-cell advocacy group?  Email

Allie Eichenbaum @ 01:33 PM

November 07, 2005

Senator Corzine: A NJ Resident Offers a Very Personal "Thank You"

Everyone, I wanted to share this particularly poignant thank-you letter to Senator Jon Corzine from Marlene Welte Fraehmke, a New Jersey resident who is living with (and fighting) ALS.   Please read Marlene's letter, please visit her site (, and pass this on to anyone you know.  This is what the stem cell fight is all about. 

This is especially personal for me as well, since Marlene's husband Tom was one of my best friends Tom_marlene_christian_a_1 when I was a kid.  There are about a million memories I could share of the 25 years we've known each other, but all of us who knew Tom then remember one thing for sure: Tom was by far the biggest kid in the class (nearly 6'10" by the time he graduated) -- and also (fortunately for the rest of us) the nicest.  I literally can't remember a single time when he was mean to anyone -- but I can remember countless times when he went out of his way to be nice, to help someone out, to just be the kind of person you're proud to call a friend.

I was thrilled at our 10th year high school reunion when I met Marlene.  They'd just become engaged, and it was clear Tom had met his perfect match.  By our 20th reunion, however, I was devastated to hear that Marlene had been diagnosed with ALS.  But after about 5 minutes of talking with her, the devastation turned to inspiration.  Tom and Marlene were fighting back -- and fighting back hard. They were telling their story, and they were fighting for stem cell research.   

Please read Marlene's letter, please visit her site (, and pass this on to anyone you know.  This is what the stem cell fight is all about. 


My name is Marlene Welte Fraehmke; I am 40 years old, a mother of a 4-year-old boy, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an Aunt and an ALS patient.  For those who do not know, ALS (also called "Lou Gehrig's Disease") is a neuro-muscular disease where simply the nerves die and the muscle wastes away.  It is a disease that can strike anyone at any time.  There is no known cause and no cure.  Most patients survive 3 -5 years from the time they were diagnosed. 

I was diagnosed in April 2004.  When I received my diagnosis I was in the prime of my life.  I then started noticing strength changes in my fingers and toes. After months of medical testing, all other Tom_marlene_christian_b_3 diseases were ruled out.  Being diagnosed with ALS is like getting a death sentence - always wondering which muscle is going to die next and doing your best to prepare for the days to come.  It has taken me a while, but I have learned to live with my disabilities, though I will never accept my diagnosis.  I still walk but with assistance and when I am outside I can be seen on my three-wheel scooter.  My falls have become more regular and I have started looking into motorized wheelchairs.  I am determined to beat this.  I have to, I am a mother!

There is little available in terms of medical treatment.  Scientists are actively looking for a cause and cure.  Embryonic stem cell research gives me hope in a time when there is little else.  Like everyone else, I cannot guarantee that this is going to be my answer to survival but I do know that it gives patients hope.  Only good came come from this.

Last year, I was a guest on the Jane Pauley show, asking her for help in documenting my life for my son.  My dream is to personally give my son these tapes when he is a young adult and say I did this for you. 

I would like to thank my Senator, Jon Corzine, for his strong and honest leadership in stem cell research and I will welcome him as my Governor.

Thank you for reading my story.

In Friendship,

Marlene W. Fraehmke

John Hlinko @ 05:50 AM

November 05, 2005

Vote NO on Prop 73

If you're in California or know anyone in California, please read and pass on this important message from our friend Don Reed: 


As the father of a paralyzed young man, I strongly support embryonic stem cell research, and am very much afraid Californians will overlook a new threat to our beautiful stem cell program.

California’s November 8 special election ballot contains a sneak attack on stem cell research.

Proposition 73, the "Parental Notification" initiative, has a "poison pill" which may criminalize stem cell research.

Proposition 73 would place a new definition of life into the California State Constitution: establishing precedent that life begins at the instant of conception: language which refers to an embryo as "the unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born.

This is something new: potential legal grounds to make the entire field of embryonic stem cell research unconstitutional.

If microscopic cells can be legally re-defined as a child, then scientists doing embryonic stem cell research could be said to be murdering a person. New grounds for lawsuits might stop the research altogether: at very least leading to years of litigation and delay, as the case winds its way through the courts, perhaps all the way up to an increasingly conservative Supreme Court.

Because Proposition 73 would be put into the California State Constitution, the damage would be permanent, ongoing, and almost impossible to undo.

Anyone who supports stem cell research should mark the calendar, and VOTE November 8th.

The official title is: PROPOSITION 73 Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Don C. Reed
co-chair, Californians for Cures

John Hlinko @ 09:33 AM

October 27, 2005

Thank Senator Corzine!

StemPAC is proud to salute New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine -- a true stem cell champion. As you may know, Senator Corzine is running for Governor of New Jersey. He's waging a fierce battle, with election day just over a week away.

Well, he's been talking about stem cells, and today he launched a particularly powerful ad. It features a young quadriplegic man, Carl Riccio, who urges support for Corzine and for the stem cell research that might someday allow him to walk again. You can watch the ad here:

This is a big step forward for the stem cell fight, and we need to show our support. We need to show that when leaders of national stature adopt stem cell research as a cause, and support it aggressively -- we will back them up. Please take a minute, and show your support for Senator Corzine by doing the following:

1) Leave a thank you comment on his blog, at the following story:

It takes a minute, but it's a powerful way to make a public statement

2) Sign his "pledge for stem cell support" at:

3) Pass on this message, and tell others to do the same.

Please help us thank Senator Corzine, and encourage others to follow his lead.

Stay tuned for more.The fight isn't over -- it's just begun .

The StemPAC team

John Hlinko @ 05:05 PM

October 21, 2005

"Wait Til Next Year" Stem Cell Vote Delayed

(the latest alert, just sent to the StemPAC list)

Well, we've been waiting for a Senate vote, and... the bad news is that the stem cell bill we've been fighting for -- HR 810 -- will not be voted on until early next year. But the good news -- according to Senator Arlen Specter -- is that Majority Leader Bill Frist has promised to bring it up as one of the first items of 2006.

Don't get discouraged -- this is a temporary delay, and the fight continues. But don't get complacent either.  Visit, and:

  1. Keep sending those letters to elected officials
  2. Keep telling your stories
  3. Keep telling your friends to do the same

Stay tuned for more.The fight isn't over -- it's just begun .

The StemPAC team


Stem-Cell Vote in U.S. Senate Postponed to Early Next Year

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Senate won't vote on expanding funding for embryonic stem-cell research until next year, said Senator Arlen Specter, the legislation's sponsor.

"The majority leader has committed to bringing it up as one of the first items next year," Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said on the floor of the Senate this morning.

Specter had threatened to attach the legislation -- passed in May by the House -- to the appropriations measure for the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, which the Senate began deliberating today. Specter is chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that has jurisdiction over that spending legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, a supporter of the legislation, had promised a vote in 2005, though he opposed attaching the measure to appropriations.

The measure would loosen restrictions on federally funded research on human embryonic stem cells imposed by President George W. Bush in 2001. Conservatives oppose the controversial research because it destroys the embryos, which they consider human life. The legislation would allow research to be performed on embryos that otherwise would be destroyed.

"There have been some recent developments that there may be a way to use stem cells without destroying the embryo,'' Specter said. "If that can be done, that would be spectacular, but the success of that kind of research is a long way off and I, personally, would like to see federal funding devoted to all aspects of embryo research because the potentials are so extraordinary.''

To contact the reporter on this story:
Jay Newton-Small in Washington

John Hlinko @ 03:32 PM

Folks, this is hot off the presses -- the key bill we've been pushing, HR 810, will be delayed until early next year.

Don't get discouraged -- this is a temporary delay, and the fight continues. But don't get complacent either -- keep sending those letters, and telling your stories at, and stay tuned for more.

The fight isn't over -- it's just begun.

Caught in legislative crunch, embryonic stem cell bill postponed
until next year
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Senate won't vote until early next year on a bill to loosen restrictions on publicly funded embryonic stem cell studies, under a deal struck Friday by the sponsors.

"The majority leader has committed to bringing it up as one of the first items next year,'' Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the stem cell bill's lead sponsor, announced on the Senate floor. Before their agreement, the sponsors had said they would hold up a must-pass spending measure until lawmakers voted on the research.

The deal releases Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., from his promise to hold a vote this year on the measure, which would loosen President Bush's 2001 ban on federal funding for research on new stem cell lines.

The bill is controversial because the research process destroys fertilized human embryos, which some people believe is immoral. The House passed the measure in May and it is expected to win a majority in the Senate. Neither chamber has enough votes to override Bush's promised veto.

Embryonic stem cell studies have the support of a majority of Americans in part because the research holds great promise in the search for treatments and cures for such diseases as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes and cancer.

Frist, a heart transplant surgeon, supports the bill. He floated the deal earlier this week amid an end-of-year legislative crunch with unfinished items that include must-pass spending bills, Harriet
Miers' Supreme Court nomination and disaster relief for the Gulf Coast.

John Hlinko @ 12:14 PM

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