Mitt Romney Opposes Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Backs Alternatives

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 19, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Mitt Romney Opposes Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Backs Alternatives Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 19
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — After giving an interview over the weekend where he discuss his newfound opposition to abortion, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talked on Monday about embryonic stem cell research, the issue that prompted his pro-life conversion two years ago.

He said he opposes the controversial science, which requires the destruction of human life, even though some say it could yield a cure for his wife, Ann, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

Romney told the Associated Press he was confident that research using adult stem cells and studies on existing embryonic stem cell lines would yield cures for patients.

"I believe that science is able to receive the stem cells necessary for research through means that don’t represent a serious, moral problem," Romney said.

President Bush put a policy in place in August 2001 that prohibits taxpayer funding of any new embryonic stem cell research taking place beyond that point because it would have the government funding the destruction of days-old unborn children.

Romney told AP in the interview that he favors continued funding of the older embryonic stem cells and he would significantly increase federal funds for adult stem cell research. He said it was the most moral and effective alternative.

"It avoids all of the moral concerns and therefore presents scientific opportunity without moral dilemma," he said. "And I found no one to dispute the potential of such avenues of exploration that was able to convince me that these did not have merit."

Last week, Ann Romney said she shares her husbands opposition to embryonic stem cell research.

She opposes the practice even though she was diagnosed in 1998 with multiple sclerosis. For Romney, however, the decision is not a matter of finding a cure for her disease but whether its appropriate to sacrifice one human life for another.

"It is one of those life questions," she told the Boston Globe. "Is my life more important than a child’s, another child’s life, and I see it as a life that they would be experimenting on."

Mitt Romney says the issue of embryonic stem cell research was what shifted his abortion position. Though he’s come under criticism for the timing of his conversion, Romney says his confronting the bioethics issue caused him to see that lie had been "cheapened" since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

He mentioned his wife in April 2005 when he talked about his opposition to embryonic stem cell research.

"My wife has M.S., and we would love for there to be a cure for her disease and for the diseases of others," Romney explained, "but there is an ethical boundary that should not be crossed."

But he said that "some of the practices that Harvard and probably other institutions in Massachusetts are engaged in cross the line of ethical conduct."

Romney’s position is important because he faces two leading candidates, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain, who both support forcing taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research.

Some Republican presidential candidates like Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback and Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and Tom Tancredo of Colorado oppose both abortion and embryonic stem cell research but former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson supports the latter.

During his tenure as governor, Romney vetoed a bill that would prohibit human cloning for reproductive purposes but allowed it for scientific research. The legislature eventually overrode the veto of the measure, which also clarified existing law to make it legal to conduct research with human embryonic stem cells.