John Kerry Attacks President Bush On Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 21, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John Kerry Attacks President Bush On Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 21, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Likely Democratic presidential nominee stepped up his attacks on President Bush on Monday saying that the president is putting his pro-life ideological views ahead of science by virtue of his opposition to funding embryonic stem cell research.

"The American people deserve a President who understands that when America invests in science and technology and higher education, we can build a new and stronger economy for the 21st century," Kerry said.

"While the Bush administration has politicized science, Kerry will put America back on the path of scientific excellence with a commitment to scientific research based on fact – not ideology," the Massachusetts senator’s campaign said in a statement.

"As president, Kerry will also overturn the ban on federal funding of research on new stem cell lines," the statement said.

President Bush and his administration have defended his August 2001 policy that prevents federal funding of any new embryonic stem cell research.

"The president came up with a policy that will allow us to explore the promise of stem-cell research, and do so in a way that doesn’t cross a certain moral threshold that he set," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said in a White House briefing last week.

"The president doesn’t believe we should be creating life for the sole purpose of destroying life," McClellan explained.

Bush’s refusal to cave in to requests for funding of the destructive research has drawn praise from pro-life organizations.

"President Bush deserves strong commendation for refusing to allow the government to cross a fundamental ethical line by supporting research that would kill human embryos, which is what John Kerry and some others are demanding," National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson told

Meanwhile, Kerry received the endorsement of 48 Nobel Prize winning researchers.

The scientists issued a letter calling Kerry a "clear choice for America’s next President" who will "restore science to its appropriate place in government and bring it back into the White House."

"By setting unwarranted restrictions on stem cell research, [Bush is] impeding medical advances," the scientists wrote in the letter.

However, other researchers disagree.

Earlier this month, two leading researchers, including a Johns Hopkins University scientist, said less controversial approaches are more likely to find a cure or reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s in the coming years. Using embryonic stem cells may not yield progress for decades, the researchers said.

Dr. D.G. McKay, a stem cell researcher at the National Institute for Neurological Diseases and Stroke, has called the promises of miracle cures from embryonic stem cells a "fairy tale."

Others point to the convulsions patients receiving injections of embryonic stem cells have had and say that the use of adult stem cells have shown far greater progress — already curing some diseases and lessening the effects of others.

No patients have yet shown any benefits as a result of the use of embryonic stem cells.

Pro-life advocates argue that embryonic stem cell research has not been as successful as research employing adult stem cells.

"Ethical research, using stem cells from adults, is much closer to producing useable therapies," NRLC’s Johnson told

In the statement Monday, Kerry claimed President Bush has "put politics over science to please [his] right-wing constituency,” and "grossly distorted" the issue of stem cell research.