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“Fitzpatrick Let Us Down”

“Fitzpatrick Let Us Down”

Bucks County Resident With Advanced ALS Takes on Fitzpatrick’s Opposition to Stem Cell Research

(New Hope, PA) – Shelbie Oppenheimer was just 28 years old when she received the devastating diagnosis – ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Fourteen years later, the fatal, slow-progressing disease has left Shelbie bedridden and on a feeding tube, communicating by typing out messages on a keyboard. Yet, since learning of its potential, Shelbie and her husband Jeff remain dedicated advocates for embryonic stem cell research and the promise that technology holds for the millions of Americans battling neurodegenerative diseases today or who will face a diagnosis in the future.
On Tuesday, Patrick Murphy and Shelbie reaffirmed their commitment to embryonic stem cell research. Though economic concerns have largely overshadowed embryonic stem cell research in recent years, the issue remains an important difference between  Murphy and his opponent in Pennsylvania’s 8th district race, former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick who upheld Bush’s veto against federal funding for the research.
“Congressman Fitzpatrick let us down when he decided to play politics with people’s lives,” Shelbie said of Fitzpatrick’s votes against stem cell research in 2005. “In Washington, Fitzpatrick chose rigid ideology over me and the millions of others like me who hope and pray each day for the promise of stem cell research.”
After promising the people of Bucks County that he would be open to supporting stem cell research, Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick voted against embryonic stem cell research once in May of 2005, and again several weeks later to stand with President George Bush in vetoing this life saving research.
“Former Congressman Fitzpatrick’s opposition to embryonic stem cell research is wrong for Shelbie and wrong for Bucks County residents,” said Murphy. “We don’t want a return to the Fitzpatrick days when scientists’ hands were tied as they were prevented from exploring new avenues that could help millions of people suffering from debilitating diseases like ALS or Alzheimer’s.
Today, Fitzpatrick attempts to justify his opposition to embryonic stem cell research by pointing to the potential of other types of stem cells besides embryonic. While progress has been made on other fronts, researchers still maintain that embryonic stem cells are the most promising, versatile, and reliable and we should not cut off this vital avenue that holds life-saving potential for Shelbie and millions of others.
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