Frist Changes Position on Stem Cells

Perhaps Bill Frist isn’t running for President after all:

In a break with President Bush, the Senate Republican leader, Bill Frist, has decided to support a bill to expand federal financing for embryonic stem cell research, a move that could push it closer to passage and force a confrontation with the White House, which is threatening to veto the measure.

Mr. Frist, a heart-lung transplant surgeon who said last month that he did not back expanding financing “at this juncture,” is expected to announce his decision Friday morning in a lengthy Senate speech. In it, he says that while he has reservations about altering Mr. Bush’s four-year-old policy, which placed strict limits on taxpayer financing for the work, he supports the bill nonetheless.

“While human embryonic stem cell research is still at a very early stage, the limitations put in place in 2001 will, over time, slow our ability to bring potential new treatments for certain diseases,” Mr. Frist says, according to a text of the speech provided by his office Thursday evening. “Therefore, I believe the president’s policy should be modified.”

Mr. Frist’s move will undoubtedly change the political landscape in the debate over embryonic stem cell research, one of the thorniest moral issues to come before Congress. The chief House sponsor of the bill, Representative Michael N. Castle, Republican of Delaware, said, “His support is of huge significance.”

The stem cell bill has passed the House but is stalled in the Senate, where competing measures are also under consideration. Because Mr. Frist’s colleagues look to him for advice on medical matters, his support for the bill could break the Senate logjam. It could also give undecided Republicans political license to back the legislation, which is already close to having the votes it needs to pass the Senate.

The move could also have implications for Mr. Frist’s political future. The senator is widely considered a potential candidate for the presidency in 2008, and supporting an expansion of the policy will put him at odds not only with the White House but also with Christian conservatives, whose support he will need in the race for the Republican nomination. But the decision could also help him win support among centrists.

“I am pro-life,” Mr. Frist says in the speech, arguing that he can reconcile his support for the science with his own Christian faith. “I believe human life begins at conception.”

But at the same time, he says, “I also believe that embryonic stem cell research should be encouraged and supported.”

I offered a luke-warm defense (more precisely, I attacked the overwrought criticisms and the absurd John Edwards/Christopher Reeves BS) of the President’s initial stem-cell plan several years ago. I was wrong to even bother, as this research should be done. Glad to see Frist is moving in the right direction on this.






25 replies
  1. 1
    Sojourner says:

    Looks like Frist has been reading the polls.

  2. 2
    matt says:

    flippidy floppidy

    no, for real though, props to Frist on this one.

  3. 3
    ppGaz says:

    I actually came out for protection of the unborn, before I came out against it. –Bill “Joe E. Brown” Frist

    Now, if he just recants his grotesque and wrong preachments about Terri Schiavo, we might consider putting him on the list of respectable human beings.

  4. 4

    Don’t get too excited until there’s actually a vote, and remember, this could be a feint, but… it could also be a big step forward for us who’ve been fighting on the stem cell front.

    But remember, until the Senate actually approves HR 810 — without amendment — this stage in the battle is not over. So…
    KEEP UP THE PRESSURE! Keep sending letters to Frist at http://www.stempac.com. And keep making calls to Frist and to your Senators, at: 202-224-3121.

    Keep up the fight!

    John Hlinko
    http://www.stempac.com

  5. 5
    Jimmy Jazz says:

    My bro’s got Multiple Sclerosis, clumps of cells don’t really weigh much against that. Glad to hear this may move forward, especially since the California iniative is looking like a gigantic scam.

    I might draw the line at the South Park version of “stem cell research”, which consisted of Christopher Reeve biting the heads off of fetuses and drinking them like a Bud Light.

  6. 6

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  7. 7
    KC says:

    As a diabetic I can just say, good for Frist. I guess the GOP does read polls.

  8. 8
    Stormy70 says:

    I wouldn’t mind more research, but they are moving foward quite a bit with adult stem cell research. I just don’t think it should be funded by the government. Let private funding take care of all of it.

  9. 9
    Steve says:

    I guess it’s a principled position to say there should be no government funding of scientific research, but when someone suggests stem cell research is the place we should start cutting off funding, I tend to suspect something other than principle is at work.

  10. 10
    p.lukasiak says:

    apparently, some of the hospitals that Frist’s family owns want to belly up to federal stem-cell research dollar trough —

    Frist is one of the most pathetically amoral people in the Senate, and if he is doing something right, its inevitably for the wrong reason.

  11. 11
    DougJ says:

    Bye bye Bill. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out of the party. We always knew you were a RINO but now you’ve proved it beyond all doubt by joining the anti-life liberals. Maybe you should should switch parties.

  12. 12
    Sojourner says:

    apparently, some of the hospitals that Frist’s family owns want to belly up to federal stem-cell research dollar trough—-

    That explains it.

  13. 13
    Sojourner says:

    Maybe you should should switch parties.

    Hell no. We don’t want him. He’s your leader not ours.

  14. 14
    RW says:

    “I was wrong to even bother, as this research should be done.”

    No one says it shouldn’t. The controversy is whether or not taxpayer dollars should be used.

  15. 15
    DougJ says:

    “The controversy is whether or not taxpayer dollars should be used.”

    I don’t see why the federal government should fund ANY medical research. Time and time again, we’ve see that federal spending on medical research is inefficient and costly; better to leave it to private industry.

  16. 16
    The Quiet Storm says:

    Seems like every post from Stormy is “I don’t care about…I am not sensitive to…”

    I bet she is an absolute Delight to be around. Imagine her coworkers! How fortunate they are to have such a ray of light amongst them.

  17. 17
    Sojourner says:

    I bet she is an absolute Delight to be around. Imagine her coworkers! How fortunate they are to have such a ray of light amongst them.

    She also doesn’t have a problem with the raping of women and children in US custody. A real piece of work.

  18. 18
    J. Michael Neal says:

    I actually came out for protection of the unborn, before I came out against it. —Bill “Joe E. Brown” Frist

    Sorry, Bill, but you were for it before you were against it, before you were for it.

  19. 19
    matt says:

    Frist, like all whores, every now and then feels the need to show some independence. Eventually the pimp (BushCo.) will bitch-slap him back into line.

  20. 20
    BinkyBoy says:

    First Hillary moves to the Right and now Frist moves to the Left. Oh, I’m all confused, who will I vote against now?

  21. 21
    ppGaz says:

    I don’t see why the federal government should fund ANY medical research. Time and time again, we’ve see that federal spending on medical research is inefficient and costly; better to leave it to private industry.

    President Requests 2.6 Percent NIH Budget Increase in 2005

    President Bush’s budget request for NIH in fiscal year 2005, announced Feb. 2, increases the FY 2004 level by 2.6 percent (or $729 million), totaling $28.757 billion, up from $28.028 billion in the current fiscal year.

    Doug, it looks like even President Potatohead knows you are full of shit.

    BTW, $28b is what it costs to fund the Iraq debacle for maybe 4 months.

  22. 22
  23. 23

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  24. 24

    […] Like I said last night, it looks to me that Bill Frist has some polling data that shows there is no chance in hell he will win in ‘08, because the expected threats over his reversal on the stem cell issue have begun: […]

  25. 25

    Bill Frist Breaks With Bush On Stem Cell Research

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  2. […] Like I said last night, it looks to me that Bill Frist has some polling data that shows there is no chance in hell he will win in ‘08, because the expected threats over his reversal on the stem cell issue have begun: […]

  3. Paging Doctor Frist

    The New York Times is reporting that doctor and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, having embarassed himself misdiagnosing Terri Schiavo from the floor of the Senate based on a videotape, is attempting to redeem himself by thinking like a real physicia…

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