Republican Party Platform Calls for Ban on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 28, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Republican Party Platform Calls for Ban on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 28
, 2008

Minneapolis, MN ( — The Republican party platform committee has released a platform that contains some of the strongest pro-life language in the history of the party. Looking at bioethics issues, it also strengthens the language on stem cell research by calling for a ban on not just funding of it but of the unethical science in general.

The pro-life community has long opposed embryonic stem cell research — staying in favor of its adult stem cell cousin — because it involves the destruction of human life.

The 2004 platform followed President Bush’s policy of limiting federal funding for any new embryonic stem cell research that involves destroying days-old unborn children.

The newly-proposed platform goes further.

“We call for a ban on human cloning and a ban on the creation of or experimentation on human embryos for research purposes" and a "ban on all embryonic stem-cell research, public or private.”

Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life, updated on the changes.

"Very late in the day, a pro-life ally advanced an argument which opened the door to embryonic-destructive stem cell research. The amendment offered would have undermined the section’s clear language banning embryonic stem cell research," she said.

"As you can imagine, the discussion became pretty intense," she added.

"After significant back-and-forth among the delegates — which was punctuated by an adjournment to a side conference in a hallway where the delegates standing up for a strong ban were ‘encouraged’ to give way — the final language remained firm on an unequivocal ban on embryonic-destructive research and experimentation," Yoest said.

"We can take deep satisfaction tonight in knowing that the platform recommended to the party by the committee will be a strong pro-life document," she told

Stephen Spruiell of National review also discusses the implications of the change.

"It is a call for a total ban on embryonic stem-cell research, including privately funded research using frozen embryos from in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics," he said. "By contrast, the 2004 platform was in accord with President Bush’s policy at the time, which made limited federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research available for the first time."

Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic commented on the new language and said the Republican Party handed Barack Obama a campaign issue.

"The Christianists just gave the Democrats one hell of a reverse wedge issue," he said. "It is an intensification — not a rebuke — of the Bush-Cheney model of conservatism."

Although the platform may appear to be out of step with presidential candidate John McCain, who supports federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, McCain has said new advances in adult stem cells may make the funding debate moot.

McCain also favors a ban on the purposeful creation of human embryos for their destruction in scientific experiments — a departure from the positions of both Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden — and the GOP platform proposal calls for such a ban.


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