Scientists Support President Bush Despite Kerry Attacks on Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 22, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scientists Support President Bush Despite Kerry Attacks on Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 22, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Though Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has been on the attack when it comes to the issue of stem cell research and given the impression that the president is anti-science, many in the scientific community still support President Bush.

To hear it from Kerry or the biotech industry, there is universal condemnation of the president’s August 2001 policy prohibiting taxpayer funding of any new research that destroys human life.

Instead, Bush has spent almost $191 million on funding adult stem cell research that has already produced 140 treatments for diseases and ailments.

That has won him support from many in the scientific community.

Bush supporter William Happer, a professor of physics at Princeton University, told The Scientist magazine that he sometimes feels alone in his support for the president.

"If you look around you, you’ll see that you’re surrounded basically by the power structure of the Democratic Party," Happer said.

Still, he’s not worried what his colleagues will think about his views.

In fact, Happer says he dislikes the view some in the research community take — pointing to a "deity complex" based on their credentials and achievements. He told The Scientist that they feel the must be listened to by political leaders.

"They’re extremely upset when the Bush administration doesn’t call in the philosopher kings to be told what to do," he said.

Assistant professor of physics David Casper at the University of California, Irvine is also a Bush backer.

He recalls conversations with his wife and colleagues that have become heated because he supports the president.

Arizona State University infectious disease researcher Charles Arntzen supports Bush too.

He says the scientists who oppose Bush are a more vocal group than those who plan to vote for the president.

"You are hearing a subsection," he told The Scientist. "You are hearing a group that has an axe to grind."

Arntzen also says that scientists are becoming more vocal and more critical as science and politics become more intertwined. Especially in the biotech industry, researchers thrive on federal and state grants and government contracts.