Today at the White House press briefing, Tony Snow claimed that “Any stem cell research that takes place in the United States today is a result of a decision the president made in 2001.” Snow claimed, “no president who has stepped up and made possible more research and encouraged more research than George W. Bush.”
Snow, echoing Karl Rove, added that “adult and blood cord stem cells” have “demonstrated far more promise” than embryonic stem cells. Watch it:
Snow’s lesson on stem cell research was chock full of false and misleading information. Here’s a fact check:
1. Bush’s decision did not begin embryonic stem cell research in the U.S. Embryonic stem cell research funded by the Geron Corporation began in the late 1990s at the University of Wisconson and Johns Hopkins University. [Congressional Research Service, pg. 3]
2. President Clinton proposed broader federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Bush suspended the Clinton rules and replaced them with his own that restrict federal funding to lines derived prior to August 2001. Clinton did not propose federal funding for embryonic stem cell research earlier because it didn’t exist. [Congressional Research Service, pgs. 5–6]
3. Adult and umbilical cord stem cells do not show “more promise” than embryonic stem cells. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine called the White House source for this claim “patently false” and “pure hokum.” [9/21/06]
QUESTION: Does the president have a feeling about the Michael J. Fox ad which has been so much in the news in that race and others?
SNOW: No, I have not heard him talk about it. But it’s interesting — let’s make a couple of important points when it comes to stem cell research.
Any stem cell research that takes place in the United States today is a result of a decision the president made in 2001 to be the first to make available 60 then-existing stem cell lines involving embryonic stem cells.
He said at the time also that he believed that those stem cells — the collection of such cells involved the taking of a human life. He did not think it would be appropriate for the federal government to engage in something morally controversial but he would not outlaw it; and, in fact, would permit private investment, which is going on in some places.
Meanwhile, the United States has the most robust program in investigating the promise of adult and blood cord stem cells, which so far have demonstrated far more promise in dealing with real conditions than embryonic stem cells, which, to date at least, have not yielded the results that many people would like to see them produce.
So when it comes to the issue of stem cell research, there has been no party or no president who has stepped up and made possible more research and encouraged more research than George W. Bush.