President Bush Better on Stem Cell Research Than John Kerry

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 1, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Bush Better on Stem Cell Research Than John Kerry Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
November 1, 2004 Note: The following editorial was written by Steven Ertelt, Editor and CEO of

STEM CELL RESEARCH has quickly become the abortion debate of this election cycle and it’s likely here to stay for many more. Unfortunately, the truth has gotten lost somewhere in the debate about whose policy would better help those suffering from diseases and various ailments that could possibly be treated by stem cells.

John Kerry has made it clear that he thinks he has a better policy on the controversial issue than the president. Every chance he gets, Kerry has made the claim that President Bush has put in place a "ban" on federal funding for stem cell research.

It’s just not true.

"President Bush has not ‘banned’ this form of research, as Sen. John Kerry has claimed," the Washington Post wrote in a recent editorial.

President Bush only limited taxpayer funding of any new embryonic stem cell research that involves the destruction of human life. That decision set in motion federal funds for research involving adult stem cells — the only kind of stem cell research that has cured a patient.

In fact, the Bush administration has spent nearly $191 million on adult stem cell research.

This is an ethical alternative because the stem cells can be found in umbilical cord blood, fat tissue, bone marrow, from cadavers and other places that don’t require the destruction of human life.

Adult stem cells are also more effective. They have already produce more than 140 treatments for patients suffering from spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, cardiac damage, multiple sclerosis, and so on.

Despite two decades of research, embryonic stem cell research has yet to produce one treatment or cure one patient.

In fact, a New York Times editorial last Thursday said, "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," David Rosenbaum of the Times 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."

Leading researchers agree.

"There is too much hype about embryonic stems and at this point there is no data that cures are imminent," said Prof. Micheline Mathews-Roth, a researcher at Harvard said in a letter to Kerry last week.

Senator Kerry has proposed spending $100 million on embryonic stem cell research. Why does he propose spending less money than President Bush and on a type of research that has yet to benefit patients?

Moreover, Senator Kerry proposes using human cloning to produce embryonic stem cells — something most Americans oppose. Sadly, a Kerry aide attempted to cover up this little known fact months ago.

Kerry campaign staffer Sarah Bianchi misstated Kerry’s position when she told the Associated Press in August that Kerry is "absolutely not” suggesting creating embryos for the sole purpose of research.

However, in July, Kerry attached his name to a bill, S. 303, that specifically allows scientists to create human embryos so their embryonic stem cells can be extracted. The process kills the days-old developing unborn child.

Kerry’s campaign refused to respond to questions about Bianchi’s statement. That could be because polls show most Americans oppose Kerry’s position.

An August poll conducted by Wilson Research Strategies, shows 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.

Meanwhile, another August survey, conducted by International Communications Research, shows that Americans overwhelmingly (80 to 13 percent) oppose Kerry’s position that human embryos should be cloned and killed for research.

President Bush is the first president to authorize federal funding for stem cell research and his policy promotes the kind of research that has already yielded benefits. That’s another reason why he deserves to be re-elected.