Bill Frist: Pro-Life Voters Can Support Me Despite Embryonic Stem Cell Vote

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 28, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bill Frist: Pro-Life Voters Can Support Me Despite Embryonic Stem Cell Vote Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 28, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist would have been one of the potential Republican presidential candidates in 2008 that pro-life advocates could have supported. As a doctor and senator from Tennessee, Frist has a strongly pro-life voting record on abortion and other issues. That was until he voted for funding embryonic stem cell research.

Frist crafted the Senate agreement that led to a vote on a bill to topple President Bush’s limits on using taxpayer funds to pay for the research, which involves the destruction of human life.

Though he also voted for two other bioethics bills that had the support of pro-life groups, Frist voted to use taxpayer funds to pay for killing days-old unborn children for their stem cells.

In an interview on Thursday with the Des Moines Register, Frist said there is not an "inconsistency" with his pro-life position on abortion and his vote in favor of embryonic stem cell research.

"The Republican Party has both the diversity of views — still, a pro-life position — and the support of science," he told the newspaper. "There’s not inconsistency there."

"Until this debate was really made public, people said you’re really for science or you’re for preservation of life," Frist added. "And that’s not right."

Explaining his upcoming vote, Frist wrote an editorial in July saying, "Although I am anti-abortion and believe the human embryo has moral significance from the moment of conception, I will back this embryonic stem cell research package on the Senate floor."

Frist is one of 10 potential presidential candidates on the GOP side to have visited Iowa last month and he recently hired former Iowa state Republican Party chairman Brian Kennedy to help him organize his campaign there.

But with several pro-life candidates considering Republican presidential bids who oppose both abortion and embryonic stem cell research, Frist may find it difficult to get traction with a group of voters who will play a large role in determining the winner of the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses and the early primaries that follow.

And pro-life groups won’t keep First’s vote a secret. Organizations like Concerned Women for America and National Right to Life made it clear before the Senate vote they would make sure their members know how lawmakers voted.