Romney Health Care Speech at Center Doing Embryonic Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 12, 2011   |   2:01PM   |   Ann Arbor, MI

Mitt Romney can’t seem to win for losing when it comes to some of the criticisms he faces on pro-life and health care issues.

The former Massachusetts governor is giving a major speech today about health care in an attempt to overcome the hurdle he faces about the health care plan implemented during his gubernatorial administration that requires state residents to purchase health insurance in a way similar to Obamacare. Romney has already faced questions about the sincerity of his conversion on abortion — from abortion to pro-life before the 2008 presidential campaign — and the location of his speech will do nothing to quell those concerns.

Romney will present his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare in a speech at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center at a time when the university is under criticism from pro-life groups for performing and promoting embryonic stem cell research.

Although the criticism is somewhat of a guilt by association one, it nonetheless has given pro-life advocates another reason to doubt the governor’s pro-life bonafides.

Andy Blom, executive director of the conservative group American Principles Project pushed the Romney-ESCR argument today online and told the Washington Times, “His choice of location for the announcement raises questions as to his true pro-life commitment from conception to natural death. Let us remind him and all 2012 candidates: There will be no truces on social issues in the conservative movement.”

The press statement LifeNews received from the Romney exploratory committee makes no mention of the embryonic stem cell research and the Times indicated Romney officials did not respond to a request for comment. emailed Romney’s press spokesman and has not yet received a response.

Jim Sedlak, vice president of American Life League, told the Times that pro-life advocates “will be watching closely to see if the governor defends human life from the moment of creation or if he expresses a belief that some human embryos are considered only valuable enough to be used in research to benefit others.”

“Just like any other human being, they have value, they have worth and they should not be experimented on,” Sedlak said, adding that “we certainly would be disappointed that anyone who declares himself pro-life would not use this opportunity where he is to stand up for embryonic human beings.”

Ironically, it is the issue of embryonic stem cell research that is credited with prompting Romney to convert to the pro-life position. Romney said he was unable to sign a pro-ESCR bill because it promoted human cloning to create human embryos with the sole intention of destroying them for research. Pro-life groups opposed the bill because it would allow scientists to clone human embryos and destroy them to obtain their stem cells for research. It would also remove the requirement that research first obtain permission for studies involving embryonic stem cells.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Romney said he opposes the specific creation and destruction of human life to advance science but he says he would support destroying human embryos from fertility clinics.

“I’m very much in favor of stem cell research, but in a way which I believe is moral and ethical,” he said. That means he opposes “creating new embryos through embryo farming or through cloning” — which is a practice he finds “unethical.”

Romney said he would first like to see human embryos adopted by families before put up for their destruction. However, he explained how he would have no problem with parents who want to allow those human embryos — unique human beings — to be destroyed for research. “But if a parent decides they would want to donate one of those embryos for purposes of research, in my view, that’s acceptable,” he said. “It should not be made against the law.”

At the same time, Romney appeared to side with President Bush in opposing the forcing of taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research that involves the destruction of human life. “I wouldn’t finance that with government money because it represents a moral challenge for a lot of people and I think we’re better investing in places where the prospects are much better,” he said.