Embryonic Stem Cell Research Advocates Plot Strategy at Stanford Mtg

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 12, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Advocates Plot Strategy at Stanford Mtg Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 12, 2006

Palo Alto, CA (LifeNews.com) — Advocates of embryonic stem cell research discussed a national strategy to promote the controversial and unproven science nationwide at weekend conference at Stanford University. Organizers talked about replicating the California stem cell research initiative in other states and discussed new ways of arguing for the research.

Chris Bell, a Democrat running for governor in Texas, said backers of the research, which involves the destruction of human life, should use the kind of religious themes normally employed by opponents.

"I believe God wants us to use science and technology to help our fellow man," Bell said, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.

The newspaper reports that embryonic stem cell research advocates sense opportunities in other states to pass initiatives calling for taxpayer funds to be used for the research. Others said pro-life opponents of the research should be made to appear anti-patient.

But Dana Cody, executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, a pro-life law firm that is one of two groups that has taken California’s state initiative to court, told the Chronicle she doesn’t think embryonic stem cell research is a big election issue for most voters.

"Nobody really cares about this issue," she said. "I don’t think it’s a big deal to most people."

At the conference, several advocates admitted Cody’s point and some acknowledged their own failure in putting together a large rally in Washington. Some organizers had planned a "Million Patient March" on Washington but have held off on the idea because they don’t think they can even muster 100,000 embryonic stem cell research advocates to attend.

Meanwhile, John Robertson, a law professor at the University of Texas, joined Paul Berg, a Stanford Nobel laureate, is telling activists they need to adopt new language to promote the grisly research.

According to the Chronicle, Robertson proposed calling embryonic stem cell research a civil liberty, a free speech issue for scientists, and speaking of it in terms of patients’ rights.

Robert Klein, chairman of the California stem cell research agency, agreed.

"This is a violation of basic family rights," Klein said. "If you communicate that message effectively, your constituency is much bigger than you thought."

Others are hoping that a veto by President Bush of a Congressional bill to use taxpayer funds on the research will galvanize supporters.

But, a May International Communications Research poll found 48% of Americans oppose federal funding of stem cell research that requires destroying human embryos. Just 39% support such funding.

“Most Americans do not support federally funded research that requires destroying human embryos," said Richard Doerflinger of the pro-life office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in response to the poll results.

"Our opponents also know this," Doerflinger explained. "No doubt this is why their public statements — and many of their own opinion polls — either ignore or misrepresent what this research involves, while irresponsibly hyping its potential for miracle cures."

The ICR survey found 57% favored funding only the research avenues that do not harm the donor. Just 24% favored funding all stem cell research, including the type that involves destroying human embryos.

Another 11 percent of those polled didn’t want Congress to fund any kind of stem cell research and 7 percent didn’t have an opinion.