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Republican Families Back Clinton on Stem Cell Research

That's the headline on this AP story, and while it is two very specific Republican families with very specific motivations for supporting Clinton, it's nonetheless significant. A quick look back at the powerful moments last October just before the 2006 election, when actor Michael Fox NHstemcell_clinton2.jpgended up (figuratively) nose to belly with fathead Rush Limbaugh over the issue of stem cell research, and you'll understand just how powerful, and polarizing, this issue can be.

The legislation in question appears to fully address conservative concerns about embryo "farming" by "limiting funding only for research on embryonic stem cells donated from in-vitro fertilization clinics _ with the donor's approval _ that otherwise would be discarded."

But just as the conservative foes of the Immigration bill are more concerned with who the newly-legalized immigrants will vote for if given citizenship than they are with "border security", when opponents address the issue of stem cell funding you get the same bob and weave as they duck the fact that this legislation fully addresses the stated "concern" regarding the use of "farmed embryos."

Here is the AP report:

Two Republicans with chronically ill or injured children joined Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday in urging the Bush administration to end its opposition to embryonic stem cell research.

The House voted last week to relax restraints on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, but supporters lack the votes needed to override the president's threatened veto.

"We are making progress in the Senate," Clinton told an audience of about 400 people at Dartmouth College. "By one count, we're only about one vote short. That's why your senator is very important."

She was referring to Republican Sen. John Sununu, the only member of the state's congressional delegation who opposes the research. Sununu backed an alternative bill that would allow research on "naturally dead embryos" and has said he supports funding to expand the number of available embryonic stem cell lines using techniques that do not require the destruction of human embryos.

President Bush likewise says the bill passed by the Democratically controlled Congress would compel taxpayers to support "the deliberate destruction of human embryos."

But Clinton emphasized that the bill would permit funding only for research on embryonic stem cells donated from in-vitro fertilization clinics _ with the donor's approval _ that otherwise would be discarded.

"We do take seriously the ethical concerns," she said. "This is not something that has been done in a quick, poorly thought out way. ... I think there is a false difference between the president's position and ours."

Joining Clinton were 10-year-old Alex Walter of Londonderry, who has Type 1 diabetes, and 23-year-old Laura Clark of Antrim, who has been paralyzed since a car crash three years.

Walter's father, Steve, said he is a registered Republican but supports Clinton because he is frustrated with the administration's stance on stem cell research. His son has endured 10 to 12 blood tests a day and about 100 insulin injections a month since being diagnosed at age 4.

"This is not a religious issue," he said. "It's really about a little boy who's ten years old, and another 100 million Americans who could benefit from this research."

Clark's mother, Kathleen, also a Republican, said her daughter's experience has been life-shattering for the family. But she also make a practical appeal, pointing out the billions of dollars spent on people with chronic spinal cord injuries. Even modest advances through stem cell research _ allowing quadriplegics to regain the use of their hands _ would lead to a significant savings in health care costs, she said.

Clinton said the administration's position was part of its general contempt for science and disregard of evidence in favor of ideology.

"Every day that passes, we have families like the Walters and the Clarks waiting and wondering whether their government is really on the side of helping and saving the lives of their loved ones," she said. "Where we are now is, we're going backward. We're not just stalled. We're going backward."

Conservatives look backwards, and long for the way things were... but that's not leadership. We need to look forward instead, and reach for those things just beyond our grasp, and keep reaching.

Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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