Mercury News Editorial

Research Roadblock

PRESIDENT BUSH'S STEM CELL OPPOSITION SLOWS AMERICAN SEARCH FOR TREATMENT OF DISEASES

The world has known for decades that Ron Reagan and his father didn't see eye-to-eye on politics.

No one knows what position President Reagan would have taken on embryonic stem cell research. His biographer, Lou Cannon, believes the former president would have struggled with the issue. But his son's appearance Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention put a spotlight on an issue that could become increasingly more uncomfortable for President Bush as the campaign unfolds.

Stem cells hold the ability to multiply and develop into any other type of cell in the body. That makes stem cell research one of the best hopes for better treatments and cures for a variety of diseases and disabilities, including Parkinson's, diabetes, strokes, spinal cord injuries and, to a lesser degree, Alzheimer's.

Yet Bush opposes further development of stem cell research. His objections center on the fact that during the process of removing stem cells the 5-day-old embryos are destroyed. Never mind that Bush supports the process of in vitro fertilization, in which thousands of human embryos are routinely destroyed.

Stem cell research is an example of why the United States is increasingly isolated from the rest of the industrialized world on scientific issues. Federally funded scientists in the United States are limited to working with stem cell lines established before August 2001. Their counterparts in Britain, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, without such restrictions, are believed to be moving closer to medical breakthroughs.

Studies show that 74 percent of Americans and 60 percent of conservatives support advancement of stem cell research. It's past time for President Bush to see the light.

Paid for by YES on 71: Coalition for Stem Cell Research and Cures, #1260661
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