Again, NY Times Tries to Foster Stem-Cell Divisions Among Republicans

July 17th, 2006 3:53 PM

The Senate prepares to take up a bill to allow federal financing of research on stem cell lines that are derived from embryos now in cold storage at fertility clinics and slated for destruction. And New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg lies in wait, ready to pounce on the vote as yet another imminent Republican crackup, in Sunday’s “Senate Appears Poised for a Showdown With the President Over Stem Cell Research.”

“The president’s mind has not changed; his chief political adviser, Karl Rove, reiterated the veto threat this week. That keeps Mr. Bush in good stead with the religious conservatives who make up an important part of his base, but at odds with other leading Republicans, including Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, who is a heart-lung surgeon and has pushed to bring the measure to a vote.”

Once again, Stolberg sees trouble for Republicans come November:

“The coming week’s reprisal of a debate that Mr. Bush thought he had put to rest is exposing deep fissures among Republicans as the November elections draw near. Polls show that a majority of Americans support the research, and stem cells already figure prominently in several key races, among them a hard-fought re-election battle by Senator Jim Talent, Republican of Missouri, who opposes a state ballot initiative to protect the research and plans to vote against the Senate bill.”

Well, it depends on how you ask the question, as a National Review editorial points out:

“It is true that most polls show public support for embryonic-stem-cell research. But that support drops substantially when it is clear that the research would be taxpayer-funded and would kill human embryos. In 2005, CBS found that the public approved “of medical research using embryonic stem cells” by a 58-31 percent margin. But when CBS asked whether the federal government should limit funding to existing stem-cell lines or increase the number, enough of the supporters defected to the conservative side to produce a 48-37 percent plurality for the president’s policy.”


“Whether they will succeed is unclear. With 55 Republicans, including staunch abortion opponents like Senators John Thune of South Dakota and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the Senate has become more conservative since the 2004 elections. Even so, Republicans across the spectrum, from Senator John W. Warner of Virginia to Senator Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, have signed on to the bill.

The overall tone is one of lament, as Stolberg seems to fear that the “more conservative” Senate won’t go along with a vote on the bill to loosen restrictions on federal funding.

Then there’s this debatable point:

“[Sen. Sam] Brownback and other opponents argue that adult stem cell research, in which cells are drawn from blood and bone marrow rather than from embryos, is more ethical and has yielded encouraging results. But scientists say embryonic stem cell research, still in its early stages, holds far greater potential.”

All scientists, or just those that happen to agree with liberal conventional wisdom on stem cells?

For more New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch.