For at least the four in ten Americans who are not familiar with stem cell research, the conservative Family Research Council offered a clarification Wednesday to comments made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi regarding the divisive issue.
At the unveiling of a statue of former President Ronald Reagan on Capitol Hill, Pelosi took a moment to honor Reagan's widow, former first lady Nancy Reagan, who in recent years has been frequently noted for her active support of embryonic stem cell research.
Since 2004, Reagan has favored what many consider to be the Democratic Party's position, and urged then President George W. Bush to support federally funded embryonic stem cell research in the hope that this science could lead to a cure for Alzheimer's disease, which her husband had suffered for nearly a decade from until his death in June 2004.
In March, Reagan was among those who praised President Barack Obama for reversing Bush's ban on federally-funded embryonic stem cell research though the White House failed to invite her to the bill-signing ceremony.
"Mrs. Reagan, with your presence here today, I hope you know that we honor you. Not only for your support of the President (Ronald Reagan), but for turning that support and love into action," Pelosi said during Wednesday's statue unveiling.
"Your support for stem cell research has made a significant difference in the lives of many American people," she added. "It has saved lives, it has found cures, it has given hope to people."
Shortly after Pelosi's remarks were made, the Family Research Council issued a statement claiming that Pelosi "got her facts all wrong, misleading people again, this time with her statements on stem cells."
"Adult stem cell research has indeed saved thousands of lives, produced cures, and benefited and given hope to many. But embryonic stem cell research, which Speaker Pelosi has promoted, has not helped a single human being, has produced no cures or treatments, has led to the destruction of countless vulnerable human embryos, and is most noted for giving tumors to lab rats," FRC president Tony Perkins clarified.
"Speaker Pelosi, please get your facts straight, put politics aside, and push for real help for people through adult stem cells," he added after chastising her for "injecting divisive politics" into her speech.
According to a poll released last year by the polling company, inc., only 17 percent of Americans say they are "very familiar" with stem cell research while 41 are either "a little bit familiar" or "not at all familiar." Roughly 42 percent say they are "somewhat familiar."
And while 69 percent of Americans said they support stem cell research, when asked specifically if they support both adult and embryonic stem cell research, only 45 percent said they do. And that's without being told of the successes of stem cell research that don't involve embryos or of the failures of embryonic stem cell research to date.
"What most people are unaware of is that there are three types of stem cell research: there is embryonic stem cell research (ESC), there is induced pluripotent (IPSC) research, and adult stem cell research (ASC)," noted Michael Reagan, the adopted son of the late Ronald Reagan and his first wife, Jane Wyman.
"When Barack Obama rescinded George Bush's ban on federal funding on certain types of embryonic stem cell research he also rescinded Bush's Executive Order 13435 which had provided federal funding for induced pluripotent stem cell research using harmless adult stem cells manipulated into mimicking embryonic stem cells without the risk ESC cells entail," the author and radio personality added after Obama's executive order this past March.
"This is where 72 different diseases are now being remedied or cured."
As Perkins had done, Reagan noted how embryonic stem cells have led to tumors in the mice that have been tested upon.
"It is well known that lab animals given embryonic stem cells routinely develop tumors and other malignant growths that eventually kill them. There is a 100 percent mortality rate among lab animals that develop these tumors," he stated.
Reagan also referred to the case of a now 17-year-old boy in Moscow who developed benign tumors after he was treated in 2001 with embryonic stem cells for a rare genetic disease.
"Israeli doctors removed the abnormal growth from his spine and their tests show it most probably was caused by the stem cell," Reagan commented.
Though Nancy Reagan supports embryonic stem cell research, Michael Reagan alleges that his late father, like him, opposed the creation of human embryos for the sole purpose of using their stem cells as possible medical cures.
On Wednesday, Michael Reagan said that he was not able to attend the unveiling of his father's statue due to a previous commitment, though he wishes he could have.
"I offer my deepest gratitude to those who have arranged for his statue to be unveiled only a few short days from the fifth anniversary of his passing," he said.
Ronald Reagan died on June 5, 2004, at the age of 93. Today, he ranks highly among former U.S. presidents in terms of approval rating.