The late, revered President Ronald Reagan is being enlisted in an all-out campaign to lift President Bush?s restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research. Even before President Reagan died on June 5, fifty-eight
But embryonic stem-cell research requires creating a human embryo and killing it. As President Bush recognizes, this raises profound moral objections. And what the embryonic research advocates are forgetting is that President Reagan strongly agreed with President Bush.
New York Times columnist William Safire, while invoking Reagan?s name to promote the cause of embryonic stem-cell research, writes that Reagan?s views on this will never be known. Well, that?s not so. A former White House assistant has given me a copy of a draft executive order that Reagan was working on shortly before he left office. The order would have ?continue[d] and broaden[ed] the moratorium on NIH grants for certain types of fetal experimentation,? a moratorium put into effect in 1988 by an assistant secretary in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Reagan took a clear stand against research that would harm or destroy ?any living child in utero,? in all stages of development in which scientists were then able to experiment on them.
And as Reagan?s national security adviser and close personal friend William Clark pointed out in the New York Times, ?After the charter expired for the Departments of Health, Education and Welfare?s ethical advisory board?which in the 1970s supported destructive research on human embryos?he [that is, Reagan] began a de facto ban on federal financing of embryo research that he held to throughout his presidency.?