Mitt Romney Campaign Says No Waffling on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 18, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Mitt Romney Campaign Says No Waffling on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 18
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — More than any other candidate, Mitt Romney has received considerable scrutiny on the issue of abortion as a result of his change of position on the issue just a few years ago. Now the GOP presidential candidate is facing questions that he flip-flopped on the issue of embryonic stem cell research.

The charges come even though it was that contentious scientific issue that led him to adopt a pro-life position on abortion.

The question is about whether or not Romney agrees with a federal bill that forces taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research involving the destruction of human embryos that are so-called leftovers from fertility clinics.

It’s an important one because President Bush has single-handedly protected Americans from funding the grisly research with a veto of one funding bill and an expected veto of a second this week. Congress has been unable to override him.

In 2005, then-Governor Romney indicated he supported the embryonic funding measure, according to a New York Times report.

“The United States House of Representatives voted for a bill that was identical to what I proposed,” Romney said. “They voted to provide for surplus embryos from in vitro fertilization processes being used for research and experimentation. That’s what I said I support.”

Romney made a distinction in his position during the first Republican presidential debate last month, making it appear he supports keeping embryonic stem cell research legal but won’t subject taxpayers to funding it.

He said he would be "happy" to allow embryonic stem cell research using "leftover" human embryos and then qualified his statement.

“I shouldn’t say happy. It’s fine for that to be allowed, to be legal. I won’t use our government funds for that," he explained.

Peter Flaherty, Romney’s deputy campaign manager and his bioethics advisor during his tenure as governor, told the New York Times that Romney is solidly against embryonic stem cell research funding using public money.

“From the moment we sat down as an administration to formulate a policy on stem cell research, the governor has never been a proponent of expanded federal funding or state funding for embryonic stem cell research,” he said.

“Governor Romney is a strong advocate for federal funding for alternative methods to get pluripotent stem cells, such as altered nuclear transfer and direct reprogramming," Flaherty added.

But Matthew David, a spokesman for John McCain, doesn’t buy it.

“It shouldn’t surprise any Republican primary voters that Mitt Romney has changed his position on federal funding of stem cells, just like he did on … abortion," David told the newspaper.

Ironically, McCain has upset pro-life advocates by repeatedly voting to fund embryonic stem cell research.