Transcript: Rep. Jim Langevin

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," May 24, 2005, that was edited for clarity.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We should not use public money to support the further destruction of human life.


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: President Bush speaking candidly about stem cell research.

My next guest is urging for support here — a vote in the House is expected within the hour.

With us now from Capitol Hill, Congressman Jim Langevin of Rhode Island.

Congressman, good to have you back.

Good afternoon, Neil.

CAVUTO: You're in a kind of a strange position. You have been paralyzed from the neck down since you were a kid. You're a staunch Catholic. You're pro-life. And yet you support stem cell research. Explain.

REP. JIM LANGEVIN, D-R.I.: Well, I believe that my support of stem cell research is very consistent with my pro-life view.

What could be more pro-life than extending and improving the quality of life for millions of Americans, indeed millions of people around the world, who are struggling with some of life's most challenging conditions and diseases? Embryonic and adult stem cell research offers great hope to millions in finding cures for these challenging conditions and diseases. And I think that, as a caring and compassionate nation, we have a moral obligation to pursue stem cell research, so that we can realize its full potential. I think it's the right thing to do.

CAVUTO: Congressman, I share your concerns about neurological and other issues, which I have some vested interest myself, but I can't get away from thinking that this embryonic research is affecting embryos that have been discarded, fetuses that have been discarded. How do you reconcile that?

LANGEVIN: Well, that's just the point, that the bill that we will be voting on today, the Castle-DeGette bill, would only allow federal funds to be used in supporting stem cell research on those embryos that are left over from the in vitro fertilization process that would otherwise be discarded.

I fully support in vitro fertilization. It's given thousands of infertile couples the opportunity to have a child who otherwise would not have been able to.

CAVUTO: But, Congressman, how do you know that it's not the start of a slippery slope and that the research and the benefits you're getting from that research are coming from what were in fact discarded embryos?

LANGEVIN: Well, that's exactly what would happen. In the vitro fertilization process, more embryos are created than are actually going to be used, unfortunately.

Many of those embryos are going to be discarded. And rather than seeing them be discarded, I'd rather see some useful benefit come to mankind through stem cell research, so that we could find cures for these various conditions and diseases, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, ALS, cancer, or juvenile diabetes or even spinal cord injuries.

Stem cell research, according to researchers and people in the medical field, will fundamentally change the face of medicine over the course of the next decade. And the United States should be leading this effort, not following.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you, Congressman, there are those who are going to listen to what's going on here. And you certainly have a vested interest in this plight. You have suffered for years and done very meritorious public service, despite your affliction. But they're going to say, the congressman is in this to help itself. How do you respond to that?

LANGEVIN: Well, clearly, this could benefit people with spinal cord injuries.

But this is not about Jim Langevin. It's about the millions of other people as well around the world and in America here at home who could potentially benefit from this research, that there are millions of people that are suffering with Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, juvenile diabetes, cancer, spinal cord injuries.

And stem cell research could offer them great hope. I believe one day that I will walk again. And it could come from a variety of different ways, different research that's going on. But one of the most promising fields is the area of stem cell research.

LANGEVIN: Well, I believe this research is going to continue whether the United States is involved in supporting it or not. It's already happening in the private sector. It's happening in foreign countries.

We're losing some of our brightest scientists to places like Great Britain, that have far greater and supportive stem cell research laws on the books supporting stem cell research. We shouldn't be losing our brightest scientists to foreign countries. We should be supporting it right here at home.

CAVUTO: But does it bother you, Congressman, that the Catholic Church is dead set against in vitro fertilization itself, toying around in this area at all, and that this seems to be a very black-and-white issue for the church, and the issue is no?

LANGEVIN: Well, let's remember, Neil, that the Catholic Church also opposed organ transplants when it first came about.

The Catholic Church also does not support the in vitro fertilization process. If you support in vitro fertilization, a process that has allowed thousands of infertile couples the opportunity to have a child. In fact, 1 percent of all births in America today are from in vitro fertilization. If you support that process, then you really ought to support stem cell research, because, in that process, more embryos are created than are going to be used.

Unfortunately, many of them are going to be discarded. Thousands. There are 400,000 frozen in in vitro fertilization clinics right now. Rather than seeing them be destroyed, I'd rather see them be used for some useful benefit for mankind.

CAVUTO: All right, Congressman Langevin, always a pleasure. Good seeing you again.

LANGEVIN: You, too, Neil. Thank you.

CAVUTO: All right. Be well. We're hoping for you. Thank you, sir, Congressman Langevin on Capitol Hill.

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