Newspapers Take John Kerry to Task on False Stem Cell Research Claims

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 28, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Newspapers Take John Kerry to Task on False Stem Cell Research Claims

Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 28, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Sooner or later, John Kerry’s misstatements on stem cell research were bound to catch up to him. Kerry has drawn flack from the Bush campaign for incorrectly saying the president has banned funding for the research. Now, two leading newspapers are holding him accountable for his remarks.

Kerry has frequently called President Bush’s August 2001 policy prohibiting taxpayer funding of any new stem cell research that destroys human life a "ban" on all such research.

In an October radio address to the nation, Kerry called Bush’s policy a "ban that’s tied the hands of our scientists and shut down some of our most promising work."

However, the policy only limited federal funding of new embryonic stem cell research. President Bush authorized over $190 million in federal funding of research employing adult stem cells, that has already produced more than 140 treatments for diseases and various ailments.

In an editorial on Wednesday, the Washington Post took issue with Kerry’s comments.

"Unfortunately, the campaign rhetoric about stem cells is misleading," the Post wrote. "President Bush has not ‘banned’ this form of research, as Sen. John Kerry has claimed."

The Post also took Kerry running mate John Edwards to task for implying that changing Bush’s policy would allow people like Christopher Reeve, the former Superman actor who recently passed away, to walk.

During a campaign stop in Iowa earlier this month, Edwards marked Reeve’s death by blasting President Bush’s position.
"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.

Just as Bush has not banned stem cell research funding, "nor would a more permissive Bush policy have led to Mr. Reeve’s walking anytime soon," the Post observed.

"Stem cells are still an unknown quantity: There is certainly no proof that more research on them will ever help people like Mr. Reeve to walk," the Post editorial said.

Meanwhile, the New York Times also weighed in on the concerning Kerry comments.

An article by David Rosenbaum published Thursday says "Senator John Kerry exaggerates the potential gains from embryonic stem cell research."

"Scientists say embryonic stem cell research is a promising avenue that could lead to the treatment and possibly cure of dread diseases," Rosenbaum wrote. "But it is unlikely that anyone with these diseases today will be helped. So far, there has not even been successful treatment in mice, and no specific help for humans is on the horizon."

Despite the rebuke, Kerry continues to imply that President Bush opposes stem cell research in general while he favors it.

Kerry’s campaign released a new television ad Thursday saying, "If you believe in the promise of stem cell research…then I hope you’ll join me, and together, we’ll change America."

"It is refreshing to see some mainstream media admit that Kerry and others are misleading people on the embryonic stem cell issue," said Nancy Valko, a representative of Nurses for Life, in response to the editorials.