John Kerry Called Out of Touch on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 24, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John Kerry Called Out of Touch on Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 24, 2004

Washington, DC ( — With two new polls both showing that Americans don’t want their tax dollars spent on embryonic stem cell research and prefer using adult stem cells, pro-life advocates are calling John Kerry out of touch with voters on the controversial issue.

"Senator John Kerry is misrepresenting both current government policy and the scientific facts regarding medical research using human stem cells," Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), said in a memo Tuesday.

Kerry was criticized earlier this month for saying President Bush had instituted a "ban" on funding for embryonic stem cell research.

In his August 2001 policy, President Bush allowed funding for embryonic stem cell research that had already started. The Bush administration has also spent $190 million on research employing adult stem cells.

"At the same time, Senator Kerry is trying to obfuscate his support for using cloning to mass create human embryos for research," Johnson added.

Kerry staffer Sarah Bianchi misstated Kerry’s position last week. She told an Associated Press reporter that Kerry is "’absolutely not” suggesting creating embryos for the sole purpose of research."

However, in July, Kerry co-sponsored S. 303 — a bill that does just that.

According to NRLC’s Johnson, Kerry has also written to constituents saying he backs human cloning for research.

"While I am opposed to reproductive cloning, I believe that the process of somatic cell nuclear transplant (SCNT), commonly referred to as therapeutic cloning, should be protected," Kerry wrote in September 2002.

Bianchi’s comment also came ten days after she told a Wall Street Journal reporter that Kerry had co-sponsored the S. 303 bill and that it would prohibit human embryos from developing beyond 14 days-old.

That means the human embryos must be destroyed if they aren’t killed beforehand for research. Despite that, "[t]he legislation draws a good line," Bianchi told the WSJ reporter.

Why has the Kerry camp made a shift in policy and in what it tells the media?

Johnson speculates that it’s because internal polling by Kerry’s campaign may have stumbled on the same results that were found in two new polls released this week.

The two polls show a majority of Americans do not want their tax dollars to be used to pay for embryonic stem cell research and that they oppose human cloning specifically to create embryos for the purpose of research. (,

One poll revealed that 53 percent of respondents opposed "using tax dollars to pay for the kind of stem cell research that requires the killing of human embryos," while only 38 percent support it.

The other shows that Americans overwhelmingly (80 to 13 percent) oppose the position taken Kerry — that human cloning should be allowed to create human embryos only to be destroyed for their stem cells.

How Kerry deals with the issue of stem cell research for the remainder of the election remains a question, but Johnson warns the media not to gloss over Kerry’s latest effort to hide his pro-cloning position.

"Journalists should not be enablers in Kerry’s attempt to deny the inconvenient fact that "therapeutic cloning" involves the mass creation and destruction of human embryos," Johnson explained.

Kerry’s campaign should not "be indulged in its new claim that he does not favor the very result that the legislation he has cosponsored would authorize," Johnson concluded.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life Committee –