Jewish Group Blocks White House Phones Over Embryonic Stem Cell Funding

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 14, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Jewish Group Blocks White House Phones Over Embryonic Stem Cell Funding

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 14, 2004

Phoenix, AZ ( — A Jewish women’s group temporarily blocked White House phones on Tuesday by staging a coordinated call to ask President Bush to overturn his policy prohibiting taxpayer funding of any new embryonic stem cell research.

Members of the Jewish women’s group Hadassah were in Phoenix this week for their national convention. Using a speakerphone from a podium, Hadassah president June Walker called the White House to start off the coordinated phone calls.

After leaving a voice mail message, Walker then told the 1,500 women in attendance to begin calling the main White House phone number. Some participating in the staged phone call got through, while others reached busy signals or couldn’t get cell phone reception.

“What President Bush knew and what scientists knew in 2001 is a lot different from what we know now,” Marla Gilson, Hadassah’s Washington representative, told the JTA news agency. “It’s time to allow new lines to be formed and those lines to be formed with federal funding.”

Though they want the president to hear their views, the Jewish women’s group apparently apparently doesn’t want to hear his response.

A Bush spokesman said the president offered to send a representative to speak to the women’s conference on the subject of stem cell research. Hadassah turned down the offer.

Despite the coordinated phone call, President Bush will continue to oppose using tax funds to back research that destroys the lives of unborn children in their earliest days, a spokesman said.

“He also believes strongly that, while we should explore the promise of stem cell research, we should do so in a way that doesn’t cross a certain moral line,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan told JTA in response.

Hadassah considers itself a key supporter of embryonic stem cell research, particularly through its many hospitals that it runs in Israel. Hospital researchers are aggressively pursuing the destructive research.

Hadassah owns six of the embryonic stem cell lines that are currently available from the federal government that were obtained prior to President Bush’s anti-funding policy he put in place in August 2001.

The group plans a similar en masse phone call in March 2005 to various state legislatures urging lawmakers to use state taxpayer dollars to fund the unproven research.