Scientists Excited Bush Stem Cell Research Policy May Change After Elections

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 24, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scientists Excited Bush Stem Cell Research Policy May Change After Elections Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 24
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — Scientists who engage in stem cell research are excited that the policy President Bush has put in place about the practice could be overturned with the election of a new president. Bush prevented making taxpayers fund any new embryonic stem cell research with their tax dollars because it involves the destruction of human life.

However, each of the three major contenders for the presidency — John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — have voted for bills to overturn those limits.

According to a San Jose Mercury News report, scientists at the recent Global Forum of the International Society for Stem Cell Research discussed the potential for the policy to be overturned quickly after the election of a new president.

"The rubber could hit the road within months," Story Landis of the National Institutes of Health, said.

But Dorinda Bordlee, the vice-president of the Bioethics Defense Fund, tells the glee of cloning scientists may be premature.

On one hand, McCain appears more open to the pro-life perspective on embryonic stem cell research than before his presidential candidacy and top-flight pro-life advocates like Sam Brownback have been heavily lobbying him against it.

Bordlee says the stem cell research landscape has changed significantly in only the last few months with the discovery of direct reprogramming and embryonic-like stem cells such as IPS cells hailed by pro-life groups as an ethical alternative to embryonic ones.

That allows McCain a chance to change course, Bordlee tells

"McCain now has a new opportunity to lead the nation to aggressive yet ethical science by rejecting the federal funding of embryo destructive research in favor of funding alternatives like the new breakthrough that enables scientists to produce patient-specific stem cells without cloning or destroying human embryos," she says.

Bordlee also points out that, while McCain has voted for federal funding, he still opposes allowing stem cell researchers to engage in human cloning.

"Unlike Obama or Clinton, John McCain is a co-sponsor of the Brownback/Landrieu bill that bans the production of human embryos by cloning for any purpose," Bordlee explains.

With bioethics commissions under both President Bush and President Clinton condemning both forms of human cloning, scientists are unlikely to see it promoted during a McCain administration.