John Edwards Accused of Exploiting Christopher Reeve’s Death on Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 13, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John Edwards Accused of Exploiting Christopher Reeve’s Death on Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 13, 2004

Washington, DC ( — John Edwards is coming under fire from those who say he exploited the death of Christopher Reeve to promote embryonic stem cell research.

During a campaign stop in Iowa on Sunday, Edwards marked Reeve’s death by blasting President Bush’s position against using taxpayer dollars to fund new embryonic stem cell research that involves the destruction of human life.

"If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to get up out of that wheelchair and walk again," Edwards told the Iowa audience.

But, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is a physician, took issue with Edwards’ comment — calling it "cruel," "crass," and "opportunistic."

In a conference call with reporters yesterday, Frist said the Kerry campaign is overstating the promise of embryonic stem cell research, which has yet to cure any patients.

"I find it opportunistic to use the death of someone like Christopher Reeve — I think it is shameful — in order to mislead the American people," Frist said.

"We should be offering people hope, just like physicians do, but neither physicians, scientists, public servants or trial lawyers like John Edwards should be offering hype," Frist added. "It is cruel to the patients, it is cruel to people who have disabilities and chronic disease, and on top of that it’s dishonest. It’s giving false hope to people."

First said the stem cell research involving spinal cord injuries like the one Reeve had after a horse riding accident has been focused almost entirely around the use of adult stem cells.

President Bush has funded adult stem cell research to the tune of $190 million and Frist said there are about 140 treatments that have been developed using the more ethical stem cells.

Responding to Frist, Kerry spokesman David Wade told the Boston Globe that the "crass" charge should be applied to President Bush because of his limits on federal funding of embryonic stem cells.

"Can you imagine if a president of the United States told polio victims that they would never walk again because he was going to please his Republican base? That’s shameful," Wade said.