The EFM Feature

Last weekend, my wife and I decided we needed a “getaway” from DC life, so we escaped to the mountains of rural Snyder County, Pennsylvania. (You have not lived until you have tried to tackle snowy mountains and farm lanes with a little Volkswagen Jetta like the one we own.) And after just three days away, it’s taken me until now to get my e-mail under control. But I can’t think of a better way to return to EFM than by posting this superb Investor’s Business Daily editorial:

Is Mitt Romney a hypocrite and panderer for his position on embryonic stem cell research? No more so than Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. And why is the Associated Press distorting the truth on the subject?
Conservatives are suspicious about Romney’s “sudden” move to the right on the subject as they continue their search for the next Ronald Reagan. But the Reagan they cherish was once a Democrat and as governor of California in 1967 Reagan signed a quite liberal abortion law, saying: “I’m fully sympathetic with attempts to liberalize the outdated abortion law now on the books in California.”
Reagan later became staunchly pro-life and backed the first pro-life plank in the Republican Party platform.
Similarly, George W. Bush ran as a pro-choice congressional candidate in 1978 but won election as a pro-life candidate for governor of Texas in 1994. His first and so far only veto was of a bill to expand federal funding of stem cell research on new embryos created and destroyed for that purpose.
The media are suspicious of Romney as well, but for a slightly different reason. They distrust him not because he has changed positions but because in their view he has chosen the wrong one.
As governor of the blue state of Massachusetts, Romney vetoed an embryonic stem cell research bill. Last year, his administration issued regulations banning the creation of embryos for research purposes, calling such research “Orwellian in its scope.”
Romney says he changed his views on embryonic stem-cell research after meeting with Harvard researchers on the issue in late 2004. They told him that embryonic stem cell research shouldn’t be a moral issue because the embryos were destroyed just 14 days after conception. Romney started thinking why they should be destroyed at all.
The Associated Press seemed baffled by Romney’s opposition to embryonic stem cell research, judging by its account of an interview he gave the wire service. You didn’t have to go past the headline to see the bias: “Romney Defends Opposition to Stem Cell Research Despite Wife’s Illness.”
In the first paragraph of its stealth editorial, the AP repeated its astonishment by saying Romney “defended his opposition to most embryonic stem cell research despite its scientific promise to cure diseases like multiple sclerosis that afflicts his wife, Ann.”
There’s that word again — “despite.”
In the AP’s view, and in the view of many liberals, if you’re afflicted with a disease or know someone who is, you must share the views of actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s and who cut a commercial in the 2006 Missouri senate race.
“You can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hope for cures,” he said in the spot. Fox also claimed that the incumbent, Sen. Jim Talent, “even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us hope.”
Romney obviously shares Fox’s hope for cures, as do we. But he recognizes the end does not justify the means and that other forms of stem cell research exist and hold promise.
Unlike the embryonic variety, these forms of research have produced actual treatment and therapies. Despite its scientific promise, as the AP puts it, the fact is that embryonic stem cell research is far behind research conducted with adult stem cells, cells extracted from umbilical cord blood and, now, cells extracted from the amniotic fluid that surrounds the embryo.
We’ve reported previously on the success of Newcastle University researchers in the U.K. They’ve successfully grown artificial human livers in the laboratory using stem cells from umbilical cord blood, offering hope for life-saving treatments to those in need of liver transplants.
Scientists at Wake Forest and Harvard universities have found a new and plentiful source of stem cells in the amniotic fluid that cushions these embryos in the womb. Researchers were able to extract stem cells from the fluid without harm to the mother or the fetus and turn them into several different tissue cell types, including brain, liver and bone.
Such science really gives us hope and has genuine promise.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

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