First Lady Calls John Kerry’s Stem Cell Research Claims "Ridiculous"

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

First Lady Calls John Kerry’s Stem Cell Research Claims "Ridiculous"

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 9, 2004

Washington, DC ( — First Lady Laura Bush is rising to the defense of her husband’s policy against federal funding of any new embryonic stem cell research. She called Democratic nominee John Kerry’s criticism "ridiculous" and said that the president’s opponents were making wild assertions about the effectiveness of the unproven research.

Over the weekend, Kerry repeated his claim that President Bush is putting "ideology over science" and again said he would mandate that taxpayers fund the destructive research in one of his first acts if elected president.

"That’s so ridiculous," Laura Bush said in an interview with The Associated Press regarding the claim about Bush’s decision. "It’s one of the myths that start during a campaign."

She told AP that Kerry was trying to turn a sensitive issue into a political football "without saying what’s right. I imagine he knows better."

Earlier, in a speech to the Pennsylvania Medical Society, Laura Bush said that lawmakers need to understand the "ethical and moral implications" of embryonic stem cell research.

"I hope that stem cell research will yield cures," the First Lady said, according to an AP report.

"But I know that embryonic stem cell research is very preliminary right now and the implication that cures for Alzheimer’s are around the corner is just not right and it’s really not fair to people who are watching a loved one suffer with this disease," Laura Bush added.

That’s a point that even Ron Reagan, who told Democrats at their recent national convention to "vote for embryonic stem cell research," admits.

In an interview on MSNBC’s "Hardball" on July 12, Reagan acknowledged that embryonic stem cells are unlikely to cure the debilitating disease.

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

Alzheimer’s contributed to the death of Bush’s father in the 1990s.

Last 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. They oppose embryonic stem cell research because unborn children in their earliest days must be destroyed to obtain the stem cells.

Today is the third anniversary of President Bush’s August 2001 decision that prevented taxpayer funding of new embryonic stem cell research.