New McCain Statement on Stem Cell Research Shows More Pro-Life Movement

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 17, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New McCain Statement on Stem Cell Research Shows More Pro-Life Movement

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 17
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — The campaign of presidential candidate John McCain has released a new statement on his position on stem cell research funding that has some observers saying it shows the senator continues to move in a pro-life direction on key bioethics issues.

The campaign sent comments on Monday to the ScienceDebate2008 web site on the issue of stem cell research and federal funding.

The statement indicates McCain still breaks with the pro-life movement on embryonic stem cell research funding, but it includes disclaiming language that one pro-life leader says is hopeful.

"While I support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, I believe clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress," McCain says in the statement.

The comments also back up previous news articles showing McCain saying that embryonic stem cell research funding may soon be unnecessary.

"Moreover, I believe that recent scientific breakthroughs raise the hope that one day this debate will be rendered academic," it says.

McCain also indicates his support for ESCR alternatives, which some say he will prioritize as president instead of, as pro-abortion candidate Barack Obama wants, dumping more money into unproven and unethical embryonic research.

"I also support funding for other research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research which hold much scientific promise and do not involve the use of embryos," McCain says.

He also continues with his long-time position in agreement with the pro-life community, saying "I oppose the intentional creation of human embryos for research purposes and I voted to ban the practice of ‘fetal farming’ making it a federal crime for researchers to use cells or fetal tissue from an embryo created for research purposes."

Deal Hudson a leading pro-life Catholic writer, writes approvingly of the McCain statement.

"There has been some evidence during the campaign that McCain’s position on embryonic stem cell research was softening. I was skeptical of drawing any conclusions having discussed it with McCain several times. But now the more optimistic prediction has come to pass,’ he explained.

Hudson interprets the McCain statement as saying he will continue the current policy of President Bush, which limits any federal funds for new embryonic stem cell research involving the destruction of human life.

He says he believes "the McCain campaign indicated a McCain administration would continue the present limitations on research instituted by President Bush and would seek to outlaw somatic cell transfer completely."

The latter comment is important because somatic cell nuclear transfer is a fancy name for human cloning for research purposes, also called therapeutic cloning. McCain has long opposed both forms of human cloning and would support a human cloning ban — another contrast with Obama.

Several scientists who support embryonic stem cell research and research cloning appear to agree with Hudson’s assessment.

"I read the statement as a bad omen for stem cell research under a McCain administration," George Daley, a Harvard research, told Wired.

"He cannot be trusted to be a supporter of embryonic stem cell research," added University of Pennsylvania professor Art Caplan. "He is moving toward a straight pro-life stance and this sort of answer can only be read as such."

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