John Kerry Surrogate Blasts President Bush on Embryonic Stem Cell Funding

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 17, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John Kerry Surrogate Blasts President Bush on Embryonic Stem Cell Funding Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 17, 2004

Manchester, NH ( — At a forum organized by presidential candidate John Kerry’s campaign on Monday, a Nobel-prize winning scientist blasted President Bush’s policy preventing taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Robert Horvitz, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology biologist, said that Bush’s August 2001 policy is preventing the unproven research from moving forward.

"This is a topic of science and medicine, but it’s a topic that’s become embroiled in politics," Horvitz said, according to an Associated Press report.

Horvitz backed federal funding of efforts to obtain stem cells from frozen human embryos left over from in vitro fertilization.

"Some people who oppose embryonic stem cell research say the problem of curing these diseases is very far in the future," he said. "My response is: Let’s get on with it."

However, Horvitz also admitted that embryonic stem cell research is not going to produce cures for some diseases and that it may be as long as ten years before treatments could be available.

"Maybe making stem cells an issue in this election will make George W. Bush change his mind," Horvitz said.

But editorial columnist Paul Greenberg, in a recent article, says President Bush, unlike Kerry, "has taken seriously the ethical problems raised by this kind of experimentation."

"Whatever one thinks of the course George W. Bush chose, he took the ethical problem seriously," Greenberg explains. "John Kerry just brushes it aside."

Greenberg also says spending taxpayer funds on research that may not yield results is wasteful.

"Senator Kerry also seems indifferent to the likelihood that government funding for stem-cell research would soon enough lead to highly profitable embryo farms in order to supply the demand for human building blocks," Greenberg says.

In his column, Greenberg says the Kerry campaign has inappropriately used the issue of stem cell research for political gain.

"John Kerry has co-opted those scientists who, seeing either profit or career advancement in embryonic stem-cell research, have failed to speak out about the profound questions, life-and-death questions, such experimentation raises," Greenberg writes.

"They’ve let the senator get away with pretending that embryonic stem-cell research is some kind of magic wand he can wave over Alzheimer’s and make it disappear."

Kerry has said one of his first actions as president will be to overturn Bush’s policy and mandate taxpayer funding of destroying embryos for stem cells.