Pro-Life Advocates React to Reagan Embryonic Stem Cell Research Speech

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 28, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Advocates React to Reagan Embryonic Stem Cell Research Speech

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 28, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Pro-life advocates say Ron Reagan, in his speech to delegates at the Democratic convention in Boston, overstated the case for the kind of successes embryonic stem cell research can have in curing or reducing the effects of debilitating diseases.

"[T]here are those who would stand in the way of this remarkable future, who would deny the federal funding so crucial to basic research," Reagan said in his prepared remarks.

John Kilner, Ph.D., president of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity is one of those bioethicists who doubts the research, which destroys lives of unborn children in their earliest stage of life, will bring the benefits Reagan claims.

"History is littered with misguided attempts to relieve suffering by cutting ethical corners. All that Ron Reagan advocated can be achieved through adult stem cell research. But he amazingly never mentioned adult stem cells," Kilner explained.

"Instead, his misleading language covered up the fact that producing the cells he seeks requires cloning human beings and then destroying them," Kilner added. "Cloning and killing are too high an ethical price to pay, particularly when there is another safe way to develop the same cures."

Rich Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops watched the speech and told, "The most important news about Ron Reagan’s speech is that, instead of entering the fray about federal funding of research using so-called ‘spare’ embryos, he
clearly made a pitch for legalizing and funding human cloning."

Doerflinger says pro-life advocates need to press ahead with a ban on all forms of human cloning, a measure that has public support and one that would stop the "clone and kill" process Reagan endorsed.

"Banning human cloning for any purpose is a goal with far more popular support than President Bush’s policy on stem cell lines," Doerflinger explains.

"A full cloning ban has twice passed the House, with support from dozens of Democrats and the House’s only socialist," Doerflinger added.

Daniel McConchie, director of public relations and public policy for the Center, says more focus needs to be placed on the use of adult stem cells.

"More money would better be spent on adult stem cell research where 45 diseases are currently being treated and new treatments are on the way," McConchie said.

"Embryonic stem cell research has yet to be used as a treatment in even one disease," McConchie explained. "We should prioritize spending limited taxpayer dollars on research that is getting real results."

In fact, many researchers and investors tout the use of adult stem cells because they come from a plethora of ethical sources. Doctors often use stem cells from a person’s own body — achieving a genetic match that prevents the body from rejecting the cells as it has done with embryonic stem cells.

Though his father, pro-life President Ronald Reagan, passed away after suffering from complications from Alzheimer’s for ten years, there is no "remarkable future" for Alzheimer’s patients as embryonic stem cell research is unlikely to provide cures for the debilitating disease.

In an interview on MSNBC’s "Hardball" on July 12, Reagan acknowledged that limitation.

"Alzheimer’s is a disease, ironically, that probably won’t be amenable to treatment through stem cell therapies," Reagan admitted.