Stem cell research hot issue in congressional race

Friday, August 04, 2006

Embryonic stem cell research is becoming a hot-button issue in a congressional race in the Chicago area. State Senator Peter Roskam and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth are seeking the 6th District Congressional seat to replace Henry Hyde, who is retiring. It is a race that will help determine who controls Congress.

The Democratic party is fighting to regain control of congress with political newcomers like Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in a rocket attack on the helicopter she was piloting near Baghdad. But she is running in predominantly Republican DuPage County against a prominent GOP lawyer and state senator, Peter Roskam, for the seat that Henry Hyde is retiring from. The race is considered a toss-up and Duckworth is hoping a presidential veto of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research might give her an edge.

"When the president, God bless him, vetoed that bill, I wish everybody could have seen the look on my son's face when we were watching it. It was just disheartening," said Tom Bowler, Duckworth supporter.

Tom Bowler is a Republican from DuPage County who considers embryonic stem cell research the best hope for his quadriplegic son Joshua to regain the use of his arms and legs.

Tammy Duckworth supports federal funding of the research.

Peter Roskam agrees with President Bush that it is morally and ethically wrong. So Bowler has recorded a phone message to swing voters in the district in support of Democrat Duckworth.

"Please join Josh and my family in supporting Tammy Duckworth. She understands," Bowler's message says.

"This is my No. 1 issue and No. 1 priority because it can help my son and a lot of others down the road," said Bowler.

"It's not going to help me or help me grow new legs in my lifetime but help the 12 million kids that have autism in their lifetime and that's what this is about," said Tammy Duckworth, (D)-6th District candidate.

"What we are asked to do is literally take one human life and pit it against another," said State Sen. Peter Roskam, (R)-6th District candidate.

Roskam led the fight against embryonic stem cell research in the state senate last year claiming that that adult stem cell research can accomplish even more without violating ethical and religious principles.

"I think embryonic research then brings into question really a great moral question that many people struggle with. Let's put the energy where it's most helpful and most positive," Roskam said.

"We've lived this. Our family and friends have lived this. We've done a lot of investigations. Both morally, ethically, and we just feel that he's wrong," said Bowler.

Duckworth is a liberal Democrat. Roskam is a conservative Republican. Both are raising tons of money from their respective parties. Roskam is trying to connect Duckworth with the alleged corruption in governor Blagojevich's administration. She says Roskam was a strong supporter of George Ryan.

ABC7 invited both candidates to appear in a debate. Roskam said yes. Duckworth said no, claiming she has already accepted four debates and that's enough.

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