by Steven Ertelt
September 26, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Supporters of forcing taxpayers to pay for embryonic stem cell research are using the issue in their campaigns for Congress this November. They say they are finding strong support following President Bush’s veto of a taxpayer funding bill this summer, but pro-life advocates say they don’t see that happening.
Soon after Bush vetoed the bill, Tom Bowler, a Chicago Republican, volunteered for the Democratic Party.
He wound up recording a telephone greeting for pro-abortion Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who is seeking to replace the retiring Henry Hyde, the longtime pro-life stalwart.
Duckworth has spent a large part of her campaign claiming that pro-life Republican State Senator Peter Roskam is out of touch with Illinois voters because he opposes embryonic stem cell research. She is one of several Democratic candidates hoping to bash their pro-life opponents on it.
In Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar, a pro-abortion Democrat running for the open U.S. Senate seat there, is using the same tactic against pro-life Rep. Mark Kennedy.
But William Beckman, executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee, told Bloomberg News that he thinks the campaign tactic will backfire and he sees the attacks as motivating pro-life voters.
He said "pro-lifers that are in the district will be getting involved in phone banks and going door to door with literature" backing Roskam.
Duckworth claimed the stem cell research issue is rallying voters behind her and she called it "incredible" for her campaign.
"I’ve had so many people come up to me and say, `I’m a Republican, but I’m going to vote for you because of this,’" she told Bloomberg News.
But Roskam says he has knocked on more than 5,000 doors in the Congressional district and doesn’t hear from anyone who has problems with his stance or is overly concerned about more taxpayer funding for embryonic stem cell research.
"What has not come up is stem-cell research," he said.
Roskam told Bloomberg that backers of the research, which relies on the destruction of human life to obtain stem cells, are misleading voters into thinking that pro-life lawmakers oppose all stem cell research in general when they support moral research that advances life.
"If you’re going to ask taxpayers to put their money into a program, put it in a program that is fruitful,” he said in an interview. "Why would we want to go into an area that is morally ambiguous at best?”
But Duckworth will keep pressing. She raises the issue in almost every forum and has 30 volunteers distributing campaign literature about her position in favor of embryonic stem cell research.
Polls show Duckworth may have a tough time.
A new poll conducted by Newsweek in August showed a decline in the support for taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research.
According to the poll, 48 percent of Americans favor funding embryonic stem cell research with taxpayer funds while 40 percent say they don’t.
That eight percent margin is down from an October 2005 Newsweek poll showing a 50-36 percent split — or a 14 percent margin. That means support for funding embryonic stem cell research with tax dollars is down 6 percent from late last year.
The Newsweek poll also found just 17 percent of Americans would base their vote on Congressional candidates this November on the issue of stem cell research. Some 55 percent say the issue is important but wouldn’t affect their vote and 22 percent say it would definitely not be a factor in how they vote.
Other polls show lower support for using taxpayer dollars to pay for embryonic stem cell research.
Conducted by International Communications Research in mid-May, a poll found 48% of Americans oppose federal funding of stem cell research that requires destroying human embryos. Just 39% support such funding and another 12 percent had no position.
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.