McCain's Stem Cell Ad Annoys Some Conservatives

Republican presidential nominee John McCain's new pro-stem cell ad is upsetting some conservative Christians, who warned that he is again in danger of "alienating" the critical voting bloc after making headway with the group through the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate.

The radio ad does not explicitly state McCain's support for embryonic stem cell research, but the message is implied given McCain's history of support for the type of research, some conservatives contend.

McCain "is running the risk of alienating the people [he's] just pulled into the fold," said Glynn Young, an anti-abortion conservative from Kirkwood, Missouri, to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this past week. "I'm mystified."

Similarly, Larry Weber, executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference, said he thinks McCain runs the one-minute ad with "some risk."

Some pro-lifers liken embryonic stem cell research to abortion because it necessitates the destruction of the embryo in the process of extracting the stem cell. But anti-embryonic stem cell research activists have no problem with its counterpart, adult stem cell research, because they say it does not destroy what they consider potential life.

On the other hand, proponents of embryonic stem cell research argue that embryonic stem cells have a greater ability to differentiate into a wider range of specialized cells than adult stem cells and thus have a greater potential to help cure diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes.

In the McCain ad, a narrator says, "Stem cell research, to unlock the mystery of cancer, diabetes, heart disease. Stem cell research to help free families from the fear and devastation of illness. Stem cell research to help doctors repair spinal cord damage, knee injuries, serious burns. Stem cell research to help stroke victims."

The ad resists from using the word "embryonic," but the term "stem cell research" is heard four times.

According to Alta Charo, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, the ad was "designed to confuse voters," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Charo pointed out that since the ad does not specify which research type it is referring to, it would remind proponents of embryonic stem cell research of McCain's history of supporting the research, while simultaneously suggesting to opponents of embryonic stem cell research that he is leaning towards continuing President George W. Bush's current policy of opposing the research.

McCain had opposed embryonic stem cell research until 2001, after which he changed his position after having had "looked at the issue more carefully" and being more "educated" on the topic.

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama supports using federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. He also supports a woman's right to choose to have an abortion.

The ad is airing in Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

It was first aired on nine St. Louis radio stations on Sept. 12.

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