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Christopher Reeve urges embryonic stem-cell research

Reeve said if federal funding of embryonic stem cell research is cut, a black market in human eggs would spring up
Reeve said if federal funding of embryonic stem cell research is cut, a black market in human eggs would spring up  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Actor Christopher Reeve said Sunday it would be a mistake if President George W. Bush opposes federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research "to save the Catholic vote."

Reeve, paralyzed since a 1995 horse-riding accident, supports such research and believes it could lead to medical breakthroughs, including treatment of paralysis.

Facing competing political pressures, Bush is weighing whether to commit tax dollars to embryonic stem-cell research. The controversial issue has divided Republicans opposed to abortion rights, elicited a public condemnation from the pope and rallied many scientists who say the research could provide doctors with a greater understanding of various diseases -- such as ALS, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes -- and how they could be fought or cured.

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"The really tragic thing that might happen is that if, in order to save the Catholic vote, if the president comes down on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, what will happen is there will be a black market created in the face of that, and women will literally be paid to donate eggs that will later be destroyed," Reeve said on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. That, Reeve said, is why federal oversight is needed.

But Rep. J.C. Watts, a member of the GOP leadership in the House, said the government should only support adult stem-cell research.

"I don't believe that embryonic stem-cell research is the route to take," the Oklahoma Republican said on the same program. "I believe adult stem cell is much more conclusive, benefits are better. Before we start creating a process that we take human life for research -- I'm not very comfortable with that."

Reeve, however, said the embryonic stem cells hold far more promise in terms of what scientists can learn.

During his recent trip to Europe, Bush said he would take his time making a decision on the issue and insisted that his private deliberations go "way beyond politics."



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