Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton said Thursday that if elected she would sign executive order reversing President Bush's restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
"I will lift the current ban on ethical stem cell research," pledged the New York senator to the crowd at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington.
Although Bush did not ban stem cell research, per se, the president had issued an executive order in August 2001 to limit federal funding for research involving human embryonic stems cells to cell lines already in existence at the time.
Clinton called the withstanding limitations on stem cell funding "a ban on hope."
In her speech, the former first lady also criticized the Bush administration for declaring "war on science." Clinton said that by "ignoring or manipulating science," the administration let conservative political ideology trump scientific evidence, citing administration officials who have questioned scientific evidence on global warming, suggested the correlation between abortion and breast cancer, and required prescription for the morning-after birth control pill.
"When I am president, I will end this assault on science," declared Clinton. "America will once again be the innovation nation."
In response, Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz said Clinton's arguments are misleading.
"Hillary Clinton says she will bring integrity to science, but on the campaign trail she manipulates basic mathematics in her attempts to explain how she will pay for hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending," he said.
Forcing taxes on hardworking families and business to support her proposals "amount to the real ban on hope," added the Republican Party's spokesman.
He also pointed out that when Clinton's husband was president, there was no funding for stem cell research.
"In her rush to attack the president, Hillary Clinton has conveniently forgotten that George W. Bush is the only president who has ever made federal money available for stem cell research," said Diaz, according to Reuters report.
The central controversy in stem cell research has stemmed from the debate over whether destroying a human embryo amounts to killing a human life.
Following the fertilization of the egg, embryonic stem cells develop into cells, tissues and organs in an unborn baby. Harvesting the embryonic stem cells, however, as some scientists are attempting to do for research purposes, would require the destruction of human embryos.
Proponents of embryonic stem cell research point to the cell's pluripotent ability – or its capacity to become nearly all cell types and tissues in the body – claiming that it holds the cure for debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer, Parkinson's disease, and diabetes.
Pro-lifers, meanwhile, have argued the research is unethical and have pointed to other successful stem cell research that do not kill embryos as alternatives.
Some scientists say that research on adult stem cells show more promise in providing real results without destroying human life.
"There are all sorts of promises on what embryonic stem cell research might produce," Greg Koukl, founder and president of Stand to Reason, said in an interview with the Christian Post last month. "But the fact is that there is not a single therapy that has ever been produced through embryonic stem cell research.
"Yet there are over 100 therapies in play right now through adult stem cell research," said Koukl.
David Prentice, a scientist and senior fellow for Life Sciences at Family Research Council, said during a Life Issues panel at a recent pro-family conference that embryonic stem cells are especially vulnerable to developing tumors when grown in a dish.
"The bottom line is, it is the adult stem cells that are the most promising," said Prentice at The Family Impact Summit held in Brandon, Fla., two weeks ago.
"Number one, you don't have to kill the donor, and number two, they work."
Prentice, who believes pro-family supporters should stand up and defend life, accused scientists who push for embryonic stem cell research despite its lack of results of doing so in hopes of getting "money to keep their labs going."
Like Clinton, other Democratic presidential hopefuls are in support of federally funding for embryonic stem cell research.
Meanwhile, the issue has divided Republicans vying for presidency.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the Republican front runner, has supported limited federally funded research as long as it did not involve creating new life to destroy it. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney opposes using embryos from fertility clinics.