President Romney and stem cells: the road to disaster

Tonight the Republican candidates for President of the United States will face off in their first fully-attended debate. The frontrunner by far to win the Republican nomination and face President Obama in the Fall of 2012 is Mitt Romney. Although that is not saying a whole lot given the weakness of the Republican group of candidates, President Obama faces a bad, but perhaps recovering Economy that could still turn the tide of voters against him.

While Romney is in many ways not a strong candidate, he could beat Obama. Politics is highly unpredictable.

If Romney did win, how would stem cell research and science more generally fare during his presidency?

As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney had a mixed voting record at various times supporting or opposing embryonic stem cell research. He’s not surprisingly gotten more conservative over time.

On this right-wing website you can compare his record versus that of Pawlenty.

Here’s a quote from Romney, equating embryonic stem cell research falsely to abortion:

“My position has changed and I have acknowledged that. How that came about is that several years ago, in the course of the stem-cell-research debate I met with a pair of experts from Harvard. At one point the experts pointed out that embryonic-stem-cell research should not be a moral issue because the embryos were destroyed at 14 days. After the meeting I looked over at Beth Myers, my chief of staff, and we both had exactly the same reaction — it just hit us hard just how much the sanctity of life had been cheapened by virtue of the Roe v. Wade mentality. And from that point forward, I said to the people of Massachusetts, “I will continue to honor what I pledged to you, but I prefer to call myself pro-life.”

For correction: I do not know which Harvard researchers that Romney met with, but the blastocyst embryos used to make ES cells are left over from IVF procedures and are less than a week old, not 14 days. They have nothing to do with abortion and only exist in a dish in an incubator.

I think as President that Romney would foster an anti-stem cell research climate in Washington, D.C.

Even if he personally believes that embryonic stem cell research that could save millions of lives is OK, would he would stand up to extremists?  I doubt it.

If anything is clear, it is that Romney is a pragmatist. He is trying to do whatever it takes to be elected President, but if he were to defeat Obama and become President, would his own vision take over and might that include support of potential life saving research?  It would be very risky to make such an assumption. It is more likely that Romney would cave in to right-wing extremists and try not to make trouble among his own base of voters.

It is interesting that one of the top embryonic stem cell biotech companies, Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), has been Massachusetts-based for a very long time. I wonder what ACT’s leadership might have had in the way of a relationship with Gov. Romney?

President Obama has a proven record in favor of stem cell research.  I wish he had been even more publicly supportive of the research, but he’s done a lot for science and for stem cell research. Even if you disagree with Obama on various issues or are understandably upset about the economy, if you care about stem cell research and providing hope to millions of people, you will support President Obama for re-election. If you hadn’t noticed, the 2012 election campaign has already started! Time to get to work.


3 thoughts on “President Romney and stem cells: the road to disaster”

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  3. I agree with your estimation of Mitt Romney as a pragmatist. The question is to what portion of the electorate his pragmatism is directed to appease. President Obama is also a pragmatist. Unfortunately President Obama is battling against total ideologues and the result is that nothing gets done. unfortunately as well is that President Obama gets the blame for this inactivity.

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