Huntsman Confirms Opposition to Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 28, 2011   |   2:59PM   |   Washington, DC

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, a former Utah governor, has confirmed his opposition to embryonic stem cell research. Huntsman takes a pro-life position on abortion but had been questioned about the controversial science.

Huntsman has come under question from blogs recently about comments he made in the October 21, 2004 edition of the Salt Lake City Weekly that appeared to put him at odds with pro-life groups on embryonic stem cell research, which has yet to cure any patients and requires the destruction of human life.

Then, Huntsman told the newspaper he disagreed with the pro-life group Eagle Forum on the issue, saying, “Stem cell research would be another issue on which we part company.”

One blog, Verum Serum, says it is not surprised that Huntsman would disagree with a pro-life organization.

“Huntsman’s father is the founder and chief financial backer of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, a research organization which has consistently advocated in favor of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. In fact, it was the Institute’s involvement in this issue which prompted Senator Orrin Hatch to switch his position in support of stem cell research back in 2001,” the blog noted. “So it sure seems that Huntsman was in favor of embryonic stem cell research as of October 2004 – is this still his position?” contacted the Huntsman campaign and spokesman Tim Miller says the former governor takes a pro-life position. The comment makes it appear Huntsman supports the policy pro-life President George W. Bush put into place of funding research with older embryonic stem cells where the life and death decision had already been made but not any new lines requiring the destruction of human embryos — unique human beings days after conception.

“Jon Huntsman is a passionate supporter of stem cell research which is leading to new discoveries that will improve and lengthen the lives of many Americans,” Miller said.

“He supports federal funding for lines that have a demonstrated history of success — adult stem cells, non-embryonic stem-cells and certain types of embryonic stem cell research. Gov. Huntsman opposes federal funding for new lines that would do harm to embryos,” Miller added.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order during his first few months in office overturning the Bush protections against forcing taxpayers to fund new embryonic stem cell research. The quotes make it appear Huntsman, like other pro-life candidates in the Republican presidential race, would put the Bush policy back in place and stop funding of research that has never been tried in humans because of massive problems such as causing tumors and immune system rejection issues.

During the first Republican presidential debate, pro-life former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty confirmed he, too, opposes taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research. Other candidates have not addressed the issue, mostly focusing on abortion and funding of abortions and pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.